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Serving: IL
father and son standing in field

What’s on your fridge?

Home Front: Usually, the refrigerator door holds all the important stuff — and the best reminders.

Years ago, there was a television commercial asking viewers, “What’s in your wallet?” Even though I have a pretty good idea of the answer to that question, I have no idea what the ad writers wanted me to find. I can still remember the commercial’s catchy phrase, but the actual product didn’t make a lasting impact.

Let me ask you a different question: “What’s on your fridge?” You can learn a lot about a household by simply looking at the refrigerator door. Only important things are posted there — things like the permission slip for the eighth grade field trip or the confirmation of a doctor’s appointment. 

What’s on our fridge? Currently it displays assorted pictures of our 11 grandkids. When Christmas cards arrive, the refrigerator door will become a photo gallery, lasting until the snow melts. Our fridge has also been known to display cartoons. One of my favorites went up years ago and stayed on display for quite a while.

The cartoon’s first frame featured a young boy hanging his head and crying as his mom enters the room. She simply asks, “Why are you crying?” In the next frame he answers, “Nobody likes me!” and Mom replies, “I like you!” In the final frame, he looks up at her and responds, “Of course you do. That’s your job!”

Keeping track of the things on the refrigerator door falls into Kendra’s job description. I like the photos and cartoons, but when it comes to keeping track of things like the markets or the weather forecast — things that are important to me and to our farming operation — I don’t put notes on the fridge. There are other ways to keep those things in focus. My dad, years before the internet became a reality, had a very successful system that didn’t involve a refrigerator or a computer.

In his office on the family farm, the walls were covered with what he fondly referred to as “his charts.” Each day he recorded the moves in the market — soybean, corn and hog prices up or down. At the end of the week, he took a marker and connected the movement of the prices, making the trends very visible. “What’s on your office wall?” For my dad, it was charts that helped him make informed decisions about when to sell.

What’s in your wallet? On your fridge? Or on your office wall? Undoubtedly, your answer is different for each of those questions, but the idea behind each answer is the same. The items residing in any of those locations have been deemed important. Yes, even if it’s only a cartoon.

Here’s one cartoon that occupied our refrigerator door for over 20 years. It served as a reminder to me to enjoy each day knowing that “in motherhood, the days are long and the years are short.”

First frame: Mom is standing in her son’s very messy bedroom, hands on hips, as she declares, “Billy, I wish you would GROW UP!”

Second frame: Mom doesn’t say a word but imagines this same boy all grown up and packing his bags as he heads out on his own.

Final frame: “But not too soon!” she declares, as she gives him a generous hug.

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn, Ill. Email, or visit

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