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Family.... Thoughts About Our Christmas Day

Family becomes real and important when you are experiencing it, while others you know personally, don't have it.

At our house, we have started a Christmas Eve tradition of emptying our stockings after a delicious Christmas supper and then later in the evening, we make room in our already crowded living room for the air mattress, blankets, and pillows, after which, we move in for a family sleepover.  We started doing this when the kids were little.  This year, there was one person on the recliner, two on couches, and two on the air mattress.

 Christmas Eve, as we settled into our sleepover;  We told the children about a co-worker who is all alone this Christmas.  This is a person who has gone through divorce in the last year, and who also struggles with alcohol and depression.  Prior to this, the children had been excited about what they'd find in their stockings and the real gifts they were planning to open in the morning..  After our true story, things were a bit more balanced and somber.  And then we spent time praying for this person before we drifted off to sleep.  It brought realness and importance to the meaning of family and Christmas.  The children were not less excited about the goodness of Christmas, only more compassionate for those less fortunate and stronger in the value of family.
  Christmas Day.....I was inspired to write this, after arriving home in the evening because I realized how much I appreciated my family, exactly as we were that day.

Christmas this year, was shared with my family at my brother's house.  This is the brother next older to me in the birth order of our family.  This brother and his generous wife have opened their unfinished home to the whole gang.  This is the brother, who sliced through his eye while working on wiring in the addition of their home.  This family also runs a bulk food store and doughnut shop\restaurant full time.  They are in waiting now.  Waiting on the eye surgery and then after, on finishing the house.  This kind of waiting is the kind that makes a person wail out questions to God about life, about pain, and about raising a family in the midst of it.  Yet, they are not complaining.  They are doing it courageously.

Another brother is here.  This brother, I've always tended to idolize.  It might be because he bought me my first guitar when I was young and our family was going through a tough time. I needed an outlet.  Or, because I tend to think and react to life similar to his way. I don't know.  But I do know, he is older and wiser.  He has had more experiences than I.  Since I am a skeptic about most things, I listen to what he says and still wonder if I agree or not or why I feel I should.  His wife, the beautiful sister-in-law, has brought a crocheting project along.  It is of a gorgeous, amber, gold color.  She is making a scarf for her daughter as she visits with everyone.  I love having her in the family.  She keeps us fun, if you can do that with our Northern\Lutheran\Mennonite ways.  Their oldest and newly married son and wife have recently left for Chile, South America.  I miss them today.  Another son is here today with his girlfriend for the first time at one of our gatherings.  They seem to be good friends.  I hope things work out for them.  I am stunned by the thought that I remember these young people as babies.

My two younger sisters are here this Christmas with their own families.  The one, having traveled from Nebraska with her husband and four children.  This sister, is thirteen months younger than I. She's the communicator.  I love her for this.  Every family needs one.  When communication is stripped from her, by those of us who want the world to hush, she is devastated, hurt, and crippled.  She needs to talk.  Her husband helps her cope by loving and listening well.  They shine together.  They are busy with boys and baby and home school, yet they break away better than most people just to be with family.

The other sister is the baby of the family, a cloak she would like to shrug off and not wear.  At least, the status that is supposed to come with being the youngest, for she is a brave, strong soul.  She is married to a gentle man that helps her with their three beautiful children.  She has lain aside her pursuit of music to have a family. Although, I am sure she still writes poetry and plucks it out on her guitar when no one listens.  She is the thinker, the philosopher, one with whom to have a great discussion.

I am here with my family.  My husband sits by my side.  He is my equalizer, for I am a feeler.  He keeps me stable when I am surrounded by emotion.  And emotion is what happens when I am surrounded by those I love.

My parents are here, sitting quietly together.  Both, into their seventies, they seem comfortable to sit and listen to the conversations flowing around them. I ask my mom how this is and she says it's not that they don't have an opinion or a thought to add; it's more that they've already said it and now it's out turn.  This makes me feel sad because I am not ready for them to be this way.  They seem tired today, but happy.

The noise level is outrageous, the entry way, strewn with snow clothes and boots.  There is a continual pot of coffee being made and drank, something we need to converse.  It's what we've always done, talk and drink coffee. The kids are playing games, and making all manner of noises.  The two babies of the day take baby steps around the coffee table, taking turns picking up and trying to play with the cell phones lain there. This commotion is exactly as it should be when family comes together with their children.

The conversation ranges from topics of many kinds.  There is talk of childhood memories, of plexus, and of the food that we are eating.  There are stories of babies and their antics as we watch two of them all day.  One is a boy, the other a girl, their differences already amusing.  Jeanie likes to be snuggled, Christian like to explore.

There is conversation about skiing and snowboarding, about eating thin soups after the first of the year, and about relatives that have passed through the area without stopping at our homes.  We wonder why anyone would do that.  We speak of funerals, of weddings, and of family reunions.  I silently think about my aversion to extended family reunions and fb and of parties with women only.  I pray for a more grownup approach, after all, I am close to forty.

I think again of the co-worker with no family and pray once more for this person.  The kids prayed for safety and comfort the night before, I pray for strength and growth in a changed life today.  I thank God for family and our differences, for our uniqueness and acceptance of each others flaws. I pray for those who don't have this gift, for it is truly a gift, not to be taken lightly, but to be held with dedication and gratefulness.


  1. Way too put family into storybook form! I like it! :-)

  2. ...and sorry that we had to miss out on such a fun sounding day!! :-( Wondering what our paragraph would sound like!! :-)

    1. Yes Geneva and Dena, you should have been there. I would've loved to add you to my collection of family memories. I'm not sure Sharon liked to be call courageous, Judy beautiful, Amy the talker, or April the thinker... :) I love them all...

  3. For some reason, this brought me close to tears...I miss you all...and those lively, fun, Skrivseth gatherings. I think of you all often!! It was so fun guessing each person as I started the paragraph!! Love the mix of personalities...yet how you all are different yet sooooo related!! Hugs to you, dear friend!! And don't ever come to Indian without looking me up. 😄

    1. Melinda Dear, So nice to hear from you! We were in OH this summer but left through Kentucky. I thought of you and really wanted to see you while passing through Fort Wayne. Someday, you need to bring your beautiful family way out here. I miss you and our chats! Thanks for the comment about my family. We loved having you with us!


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