The Richest Man in Walnut Grove

“What a family! It does make a man proud.” Charles Ingalls

When hard times hit, families either come together or distance themselves. Charles Ingalls was proud of his family, the kind of a family I long to have. Caroline headed for the fields to plant potatoes, Mary worked with Mrs. Whipple hemming skirts, and Laura took care of all the chores. Carrie helped too by milking the cow… well sorta.


Financial stress was a family problem, not something Charles had to conquer on his own. Each member sacrificed for the good of the whole, even when they could have raised a stink about going without “a little white sugar” or missing school or doing more chores than usual. Every time I watch this episode I can’t help it. Tears rush down my cheeks when Mary runs down the dirt road towards town, clutching her dollar and seventy cents. Celebrating how hard they worked, she has to tell Laura so they can add their contribution to the family “Money Jar.”

The Lee Family 2015 – Five days before brain surgery.

I’d like to think my children would react the same way, rallying alongside Josh and I enduring unfavorable financial times or health problems or any number of life’s challenges. What was the secret that shifted their thinking? Was it that they were poor and had been through tough times before? When Nels declares that Charles Ingalls is the richest man in Walnut Grove, how does he come to that conclusion? Is it because he knows his children wouldn’t have sacrificed in the same way? And why not?

How can we influence our families to adopt the mindset of the Ingalls?

I’m sure there are many factors, but I have a hunch about one for sure. Almost every night at the dinner table we thank God for jobs and a house to live in and food to eat. We are thankful for every little thing because God has given it to us on this particular day. I think my kids, Tobey and Raegan, know these things aren’t guarantees. They are blessings. Not all blessings last forever and when the money jar gets a little empty that’s when family members step in to help in whatever way they can. Thankfulness shifts our thinking. It makes us part of a team, not a one-man mentality looking out for ourselves. When our hearts are bursting with thanks, it’s hard to be selfish.

Charles Ingalls says it best.

“I think the good Lord gives us hard times now and then, just so we appreciate the good ones.”

Be constantly thankful for the good times and when hard times hit, your family will be more likely to rally together. How have you seen this to be true? Besides thankfulness, what else creates this beautiful picture of a family sacrificing together?


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Wendi Lou

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