Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My 29th Birthday Celebration and Other Events

Gerald. Jake, and I are getting back to normal after the influx of family over the holiday weekend.  Jake had six visiting “cousins” or “nephews” as one of our kids figured out to call these visiting canines. “Cousins” is what we had always called the kids’ dogs when they visited at the same time. Then we got Jake. I like him just fine and appreciate  his welcoming greeting every time I arrive home, but I have a little trouble thinking of him as equal to my four children.  (One daughter said her dog would be Jake’s nephew.)  Nevertheless, while Gerald pets and sweet talks to him, I have heard Gerald calling him, “Son.”  However the dogs are related (or not), it is always fun to watch them interact, and I was glad they all got along.

Gerry arrived on Tuesday so he could hunt with his dad, and Jeannie came that evening with Elijah and Cecelie to be available to help me on Wednesday.  While Brian was in the field, Mary Ellen was over at her house on Wednesday cooking up a storm both for our Thanksgiving feast and the second one for her brother-in-law’s family on Friday, but she managed a visit with us each day anyhow.

Brianna and Trent had classes in Central Illinois on Wednesday, so they came later that day.  They slept at Woodsong, so they could be with their cousins. So did Sam.  Our newlyweds Leslie and Mike arrived from Nashville late that evening. Vickie, Erin, and Geri Ann were over at Gma Shirley’s but dropping in and out over here.  By Thursday noon, David had brought Katherine out in the van, and Vickie and daughters arrived with food for the buffet and flowers for my birthday to brighten the dining room.

Except for the five Archibalds who were entertaining Bryan’s family down at Athens, Georgia, all seventeen of us were  here.  I keep the two extra leaves in the dining room table all the time, so that it can seat ten if necessary and it frequently is. Gerald put the extra leaf in the kitchen table, and then eight can sit there.  It is noisy and chaotic when the family is here at once, but it means a great deal to me to be surrounded by these loved ones.

The last few years, our children have started carrying in extra food as a means of helping me, and we end up with more than we need. But that was very helpful this year because grandkids are now driving and, thus, coming and going to town at undetermined times, and Jeannie and I were alternating at Katherine’s house while aides were off.  So there was plenty of food on hand for people to help themselves with plates for the microwave or snacks off the dessert table.  I fixed left-overs  for sit-down meals a couple of times. Jeannie and Mary Ellen kept dishes washed up.

Gerry and Vickie and daughters and dogs took off Thanksgiving night after their second family dinner at Gma Shirley’s. Gerry needed to be at work the next morning.  They drove through the night with the women shopping as they went along.  At one point, Vickie joined Gerry in the truck and gave him a long driving break. On the way up, they had picked Erin up at the Atlanta airport, and I don’t know if she was able to enjoy a weekend in Athens with them or not before she flew back to Texas.  I forgot to ask, but it sure was good to see her as I have missed her terribly since she can no longer drop in like she had for the previous two years.

On Friday, my birthday, Gerald picked me up from Katherine’s. Stopping at the mailbox as we pulled into our lane, I was gratified with cards and letters as well as a present from my sister. As I walked into the house, the phone rang and it was my sister’s birthday call from Amarillo before their weekly Friday night dinner for their large extended family of kids and grandkids. I hadn’t hung up yet when the seven grandkids still at our house came into the room smiling and laughing before they disappeared into Leslie and Mike’s bedroom.  Since they always have some project going, I didn’t think anything about it. A few minutes later they came out singing “Happy birthday” with a beautiful cake from Larry’s saying:  “Happy 29ths birthday, Grandma!”  Gerry phoned to say happy birthday, and Mary Ellen dropped in and we all had a great birthday party with cake and ice cream and lots of laughter.

The laughter got louder a little later when the grandkids started cooking up their late night plans. They had planned even before they came to see Lincoln  together at the Marion theater.  Suddenly they were plotting again, and Sam was cutting out beards and top hats there at the dining room table. They carried up black construction paper they had found in their den downstairs—the junk room we called the “art room” when they were little.  One by one, the middle four of the seven found suit jackets from the dress-up closet and added their beards and tall hats, while adults respectfully (nervously) declined accompanying them to the theater.  We were glad Leslie and Mike were going along to keep them in line, and Cecelie looked so cute with the hair-do some cousin had given her that I was happy she did not spoil it with a top hat.

With the commotion of a big family, it is usual to run late, and they barely made it before the movie began. Leslie had to laugh when Trent put down his credit card, and the girl at the box office handed him the seven tickets without even asking which movie they were attending.  By then most seats were taken, so they were escorted to the very front accompanied by the laughter of those seeing four Lincolns arrive for the movie.  Knowing President Lincoln was well mannered, they remembered to take the hats off so they would not block anyone’s vision.  Phones were used by some in the audience to take their pictures, and Leslie loved telling that one mother warned her child to stay away from those weird kids.  We were all sound asleep when they came back late that night, but were relieved to learn the next day that they wern’t refused admission. By Saturday they had posted a photo of the Lincoln Four on Facebook and were already on to other plans. Aunt Mary had cleaned up the black construction paper scraps.  

I spent Saturday night at Katherine’s and only came home Sunday morning to get ready for Sunday School and church.  I was delighted to have Leslie and Mike and another young couple, A.J. and Jessie, in our Young Adult Class.  Since Jessie is very close to producing their second child any time now, there was some interesting visiting in addition to studying the final chapter of Peter’s second letter reminding us that the Lord is long suffering, not wanting anyone to perish but to come to repentance.  And I could again marvel that to the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.  Afterwards during worship, we loved hearing Leslie sing before concentrating on the pastor’s chosen text from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

Jeannie took us all out for Sunday dinner at Cracker Barrel, so they could head on home immediately to northern Illinois and Leslie and Mike could go the opposite direction to Tennessee.  We dropped Sam off, and Gerald and I came home to rest. 

A huge white moon hung in the early eastern sky at 4:45 this afternoon as I left Katherine’s house and started toward the farm. I enjoyed it along with early Christmas lights as I drove through the darkening daylight. By the time I reached Woodsong, the moon was light golden in color. The beauty is always very welcome.  With life so busy, the time between one full moon and the next seems to be on express these days.  For me a month is like a day.  I do look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, and I suppose a life outside of time just as the Lord enjoys.

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