How the Quaker Oats Picnic taught me the importance of keeping short accounts
If you grew up in East City, Peterborough, Ontario you know the smell of Quaker Oats. The Quaker plant sat on the shores of the Otonabee River alongside the Hunter Street bridge.
Its aroma has been described as warm oatmeal cookies, Sunday porridge, and “sugary, oaty, cinnamon yumminess”.
Most of what Quaker Oats made was delicious. I especially loved their Harvest Crunch Granola cereal and was a little bit jealous that my best friend’s dad worked at Quaker Oats.
But then she invited me to join her and her family at the Quaker Oats Picnic at Nicholls Oval Park.
I had been to the GE Picnic every year with my family and so knew what fun was in store for the day. Music, bingo, merry-go-round rides, and even a Ferris wheel.
But the Quaker Oats picnic also offered games of chance. They featured a huge roulette wheel where you could place your “bet” on a chosen roulette board number and if the wheel spun and stopped at your number you won.
The prizes were boxes of cereal, granola bars, and other delicious treats.
I wanted that cereal.
As a young child, my allowance was meagre and usually spent on much better stuff than cereal.
So I made a plan to win the cereal.
To this day, I am embarrassed to share this story.
As a matter of fact, until recently I held it in my storage of memories as one that brought me great shame.
Instead of placing my bet before the huge wheel was spun, I waited until it stopped and then snuck my piece on the winning square.
“I won!” I exclaimed each time the wheel stopped.
Looking back, I can only imagine the looks of disapproving adults who would likely have witnessed such a bold and dishonest trick. But no one ratted me out. They continued to let me “win” and most likely walked away shaking their heads, whispering to their own children to not behave as poorly as I had.
The guilt and shame had sat with me for years.
40+ years later, I finally acknowledged my wrong and confessed it to God.
What instant relief.
The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us.
1 John 1:8–9 says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I instantly felt forgiven and although it’s not a story that I’m proud of, it no longer has the stain of shame attached. I realize the importance of keeping short accounts with God.
And now I can enjoy my crunchy cereal with a glad and light heart.
(first featured on Medium on March 26, 2021)