Something crazy happened in my friend’s parents’ kitchen about 20 years ago. I mean, it wasn’t really crazy. It was actually quite boring. But I will always remember it. Here’s why:

I was in college at the time. My best friend’s parents lived in Columbia MD. I went with her to visit her folks and to enjoy some home cooking (her mom made amazing meatball soup). We were hanging in the kitchen, just chatting about whatever. My friend and her mom were talking about the large vase on the counter. It wasn’t holding flowers—it was holding spatulas, wooden spoons, ladles etc. My friend points to the vase and says “THIS is the place to put your large utensils! In a big ol vase on the counter. Why would people waste precious kitchen drawer space on this stuff?” Her mom whole-heartedly agreed and they discussed further. They were doing it right, and were quite proud of it.

I thought to myself, “Ha! But no. That’s not the best place to keep your kitchen utensils.” My parents have always kept theirs in a drawer. Why take up precious counter space with a bunch of clunky utensils? Leave the big utensils in a drawer, below or near your regular silverware.

But then I got to thinking. Whoa. Maybe we’re both right. Maybe we’re both wrong? Maybe…who cares?! What’s right for one family is clearly not always right for another. People have different kitchens. Different amounts of cooking utensils. Varying amounts of counter space. Just because I was raised a certain way, does NOT mean it is the only acceptable way.

I think sometimes we tend to assume that we were raised the right way, and everything else is wrong. “I didn’t use a calculator in math class. Therefore, since I am the king of mathematics, that’s how everyone should learn.” Or how about “This is how I drive, and everyone else should react accordingly.” Or maybe “We were spanked as kids, and I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer, therefore everyone should spank their kids.”

We are all different. Maybe we belong to a “utensils in the drawer” type of family. Maybe we belong to a “utensils on the counter” type of family. Some of us do well with boundaries and rules. Some of us were born to resist them. Some of us were born to be leaders at our jobs, but others might focus on lots of hobbies outside of work. Some us can digest dairy, but some of us can’t.

Sometimes, there is clearly a right and a wrong. It’s right to eat vegetables in order to prevent sickness and death. It’s wrong to hit people when you’re mad at them. It’s right to tell the truth, and wrong to be dishonest. But many times, there are gray areas. There are extenuating circumstances. There are exceptions, reasons, and intentions behind our actions.

Can you think of a time that you got into an argument because you and that person handle things differently? Maybe your families treat birthday parties differently. Maybe you and your spouse have very different ideas of what makes a great date night. Maybe you and your guitarist have different ideas of what makes a good drummer.

Please feel free to keep your spatulas and wooden spoons wherever you choose. When you see someone else who keeps their spatulas somewhere else, ask them why. Listen. Care. Be interested. Maybe they’ll have a cool idea about kitchen storage to share! Maybe you’ll share a cool idea in return.

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