Monday, December 24, 2018

Memories are made of this

"We all met at the church," June reminisced. "Mom and Dad took us all caroling." Well, yes, they took us ALL. I can well remember being a bit taller than knee-high when Mom and Dad pushed me out in front of the teens caroling at the Brethren Home. Back then it was a dark, dreary place that really didn't smell all that good. I was terrified. Of course, when Mom said, "Sing!" there was no dodging it. In my child voice, I sang Away in a Manger. The residents wanted to touch this little girl who was none too receptive. This is one memory that is very vivid from my point of view, which was mostly of knees and coattails.

My sister has different memories which mean the world to me. Being seven years her junior, my memories are limited. I don't remember Junior Stuff playing the accordion as the teens sang. Nor do I remember Cousin Gene Johnson and some other boys wrestling and breaking the back off of Mom and Dad's sofa after caroling. However, I do remember going from home to home singing to seniors: Grandma and Grandpa Force, Jess and Rosie Riffell, Rene Beane, Becky Groff and so many others who were the cherished in our community. We were often asked into their homes, tucking in like chicks beneath the brooder.

The youth group was made up of kids whose parents grew up together included Edwin, Miriam, Nancy and Martha Royer, Art, Larry and Gary Fourman, Junior Stuff, Lynda Fourman, Ruth, Kent, Terry and Dan Snider, Lois McBride, Barbara Rhodes, Judy Reck, Carol Stager, Margaret Dohner and so many more teens blessed our lives. The faces I remember over that decade of Christmas carolers, the older church children who filled our home regularly. They caroled then came back to the house for a wiener roast over the fireplace and ate green and red popcorn balls. Dad always went to North Star to get a couple of tins of potato chips. The atmosphere was full of laughter and fun with farm kids who grew up together.

Mom and Dad no longer had the youth group when I was a teen. How I wish we had those same experiences, since we were all siblings of that older group of carolers. Doris Royer, Mary Kay Snider, Vivian Force, Shirley and Janet Riffell, Karen and Kenton Loxley, Eddie Reck, Brenda Stager, Gary Rhoades, Darrell Fourman, Marena Neff and more grew up the same way as those older sisters and brothers. Yes, we missed things like caroling, hayrides and wiener roasts over the old fireplace.

My memories are made of this....and of all the things my sister remembers to share with me. We are the sum of our parts, plus those parts we find on our own. Christmas is over, but what we leave behind goes on forever. So when Santa comes next year, be sure to make sure he leaves memories that will be related for generations to come.

Monday, December 17, 2018

This is the season

A Jewish baby was born in a manger to an unwed mother and an adopting father. Contrary to what is celebrated, this baby was born in the warm months of August or September when the sheep were returned to the fields and when more than likely a census would have been taken, so travelers were not hampered by winter weather.

My friend wrote, "Why are most songs Christ based this time of the year?" His celebration of Hanukkah has just ended. A time of family and remembrance of their own religious freedom. A sect into which God decided to send a baby. Some other friends will soon be celebrating Kwanzaa. A celebration of people, community.  Throughout the winter months, there are celebrations of numerous beliefs and cultures. A season rich with love of humankind, a season of celebrating the earth, a season of celebrating a higher deity, a season of celebrating one another.

I know. We Christians have a tendency to make this all about us, but Christmas isn't about us. It is about what that manger represents, what we learned from that baby turned man. It is about love without judgment. I am no better than anyone else. That is what I learned. I learned that sinner or saint, they are loved. I learned that embracing man/womankind is my task. I learned not to judge and to embrace all cultures. I was raised to believe I could make the world a better place. I grew to understand that not everyone had to believe what I believed. My journey was my own and not to expect others  to fit what I believe.

When I see that baby in our nativity, I see the birth of one who would not want adoration. He would turn away from wanting anything for himself.  He would want us to be active in this world in the name of love. His parables tell us over and over about helping others. He does not ask us to idolize him. He asks us to include everyone. He was Jewish. He never denied that fact. His parents and grandparents were Jewish. He was a dark skinned man with black hair, not the blue-eyed brunette we see so often. He asked that we believe in him and, in essence, believe in the God in every human being.

I remember being teased once for having a new creative hair style. We have a tendency to look at differences instead of offering understanding and love. God came to us in many different ways. None are wrong when they all lead back to Him. Do I say "happy holidays?" Indeed, for I respect all people and wish them the happiest of the season that brings love and laughter into their lives.

So I say to you, "warmest, loving wishes" in this season of hope and love. Be that shining light in the world that brings joy to all around you. This is the season.

Monday, December 10, 2018

For better and better

On December 9, 2018, Pamela Loxley Drake married Loren Lee Nelson. Pam is the daughter of Ruth (Johnson) and Willard Loxley of Neff Road. Loren is the son of Lorraine and Dell Nelson from Zion, Illinois.

The bride wore a navy blue gown. The flower girl, granddaughter Emma, wore a dress very similar to her MeMe's. Nolan, the ring bear bearer, wore a navy suit the same as the two above mentioned. However, no one was blue. In fact, there was much laughter and fun. June stood up with me and a friend stood up with Loren. A dear friend married us. It was perfect.

Okay, now that we have the announcement finished.....there is something about marrying your best friend that is similar to having a piece of you put back into place. And, our wedding was all about what we are all about. We commented this morning that the reception felt like you were sitting in your living room with one hundred friends. They mingled and made new acquaintances. They laughed and stayed with us all through the event. They are people we love and loved having with us.

There should always be laughter at weddings. They need to be less structured and more fun. The love that we share we share freely with those people who are in our lives. Yes, this is a mushy column about loving one another. Okay, so I did wave at people as I came down the aisle and might just have had a few moments of picking on our minister. But it was all delightful fun. Our 'minister' topped it all off by lifting a white branch with mistletoe hung on the end, holding it over Loren's head saying, "you many kiss the groom". Yes, we had a memorable wedding.

Today is our first day into our marriage. We start it surrounded by love of family, friends and beautiful moments. We feel like the world is embracing us.

We love the Facebook comments we have received from you, our friends back home. We know you have patiently followed this journey. Today and always I say thank you. We are truly blessed.