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The memento box and Thanksgiving

I’ve had a box in the garage for a long time. When I stored it away, I wrote on the box an identifying mark, MEMENTOS. I’ve added to the box through the years.

memento – 1. something that reminds one of past events; souvenir (thefreedictionary.com)

Perhaps some of you will understand. I’m a saver, a keeper of memories. Often I keep things too long and end up with a banker’s box full of cards, letters, notes, etc. that were just too precious to throw out at the time.

So I tossed them in a box. And now it’s filled to the brim.

During my semi-annual clean-out-the-garage day, I determined I really should go through the box of mementos. I would look at the things saved one more time and throw them away. After all, one can only keep so much stuff.

My children will thank me one day.

As I am going through each item and reading hand-written messages, I travel back in time. There are birthday cards, valentines, and thank you’s, the happy sentiments with sweet messages of endearment. I smile as I read.

Then there are the other messages, ones sent during sickness, operations, long months of illness, and seasons of tribulation common to us all. These take me back to a different occasion, the difficult times when the prayers of others held up my hands during the conflict and the struggle.

I linger over the handwritten words, remember each precious individual who took time to choose a card, write their thoughts, address and stamp the envelope and mail it to the Wright House. I consider the effort and cost.

I am reasonably addicted to the quick email, the Facebook message, or the text sent on the run. I appreciate the quick way of notification and staying in touch. Often those messages convey appreciation and care.I like sending and receiving those fast and efficient communications. But I can quickly loose them as the phone memory gets full or other messages take their places in chronological order.

So to be able to read again the thoughts of those who cared enough to send their very best, I am touched anew by their demonstration of love.

I chuckle at some of the cards. One particular couple sent Sweet William get-well cards regularly during the years of suffering with his knee. So often they were funny quips with the wife’s dry wit of humor thrown in for extra emphasis. We needed a reason to laugh. And so I do laugh again as I re-read them.

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There are notes from piano students now grown up and pursuing adult endeavors. The “thank-you” for being a good teacher from young students is rewarding.

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Some of the cards were from the grandchildren when they were small, their childish scrawl and penmanship evident of their different ages. Those unstructured letters spell more than words. It took effort for those tiny hands to hold pencils and crayons and write a few simple words or draw pictures. They are love to me.

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I read beautiful prose from my daughter-in-love, her artful way of using language. Short notes written in my one and only son’s familiar script are equally dear.

Sweet William’s cards were always well-chosen, him looking for the perfect printed words that conveyed what his heart wanted to say.

A faithful friend’s remembrance of me shows up in the annual birthday greeting. Another friend wrote a note on half of a card, making it a post card. I love that about her. She and I like to re-purpose, re-use, and as she wrote “re-mail.”

I discovered a copy of a nomination for Mother of the Year written by my one and only son when he was a teenager. I cherish his tender words even now.

I dug down deep into the bottom of the box looking for the oldest of the contents. The treasure hunt produced the funeral book when my mother died over 30 years ago. It contains a record of people who paid their last respects, people who loved my mother dearly. Inside the book was a poem by Martha Snell Nicholson that was read at mother’s funeral. I have wondered where that poem went, and it was pure delight to find it.

This isn’t death – It’s glory! It is not dark – It’s light!
It isn’t stumbling, groping, or even faith – It’s sight!
This isn’t grief – It’s having my last tear wiped away;
It’s sunrise – It’s the morning of my eternal day!

As I read again this treasured poem, I am aware that some who wrote me have died. They also have seen their eternal day.  At 30 years past, I am nearer mine, and it does not seem fearsome at all but pure glory.

I’ve just touched the surface of the box of Mementos. This is going to take a while, because I simply must read each card again.

I consider these people represented by saved mementos, some who came into my life for a season, and others who came to stay. Both are vital to us as human beings. Relationship is the gift God offered in Eden and once again at the cross.

As Thanksgiving week implores me to remember my blessings, I count my friends and relations. I am blessed indeed to have people who care about and love me. I am equally blessed to be able to reciprocate that love.

Jesus told his disciples, “I have called you friends.”

Friends walk with us in this journey of life. They help us carry our burdens. They laugh with us, cry with us, pray for us, and sit in silence with us when there are no words. Without them we would be poor indeed.

I am thankful for God’s gift of people. They show me how to love.

 

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Little girls and dollhouses

The dollhouse came to me as a rescue, kind of like Maisie but not exactly.

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[from Pinterest. Different house but a close idea-picture]

 

Parents periodically go through the mass of toys and clothes that accumulate in a house full of kiddos. Children outgrow things or there just needs to be space to walk on the floor. Thus the large plastic dollhouse had been marked to go.

My daughter-in-love asked if I would like to have it at my house for the grand girls to play with when they came to spend time with us. I said, “yes,” of course, because what Grammy does not want to have cool toys for her precious ones to enjoy.

The big house stayed in the downstairs extra bedroom, the one that used to be the one and only son’s room until he went to college; then years later I transformed it into the Grands Room. It was the main play place. There was a closet with boxes of dress-up things and toy dishes, a child-size table and chairs perfect for a tea party. The chest of drawers, an heirloom of my dad’s making, held changes of clothes, PJs, and underwear just in case they got to spend the night on the spur of the moment. And there was a bed waiting for me to tuck in sleepy heads.

It was a room they could call their own. The dollhouse found a new home there.

The girls and their cousins played with the house, furniture, and small-size family for hours. Sometimes I had visiting little ones who enjoyed the house. It was a fixture in the room.

I carried the house upstairs to a different room after the family moved from the house next door. I needed a change in the Grands Room, not a reminder of their absence.

For years, the house lived upstairs, its contents boxed away in a storage area. The box came out occasionally for play when the grands came here or when other children visited.

This year, I wondered if it was time for the house to find a new home. My grand girls are growing into young women. I didn’t think they would sit in front of the house and play like they used to.

So I asked the two girls, via Facebook, if it was OK for me to give the house away.

Their comments were sweet and filled with memories of the house, but they graciously agreed to let another child have it to enjoy.

I knew who the little girl might be,  the tiniest and youngest member of our family, so I texted her mother. She said, “yes.”

This past Sunday, this mom, her husband and children were in our neighborhood, visiting our common relatives and celebrating their daughter’s second birthday. I decided this was the day to deliver the house.

I carried it and the box downstairs and out to the garage. I walked the box down the lane to the neighbors’ house. Many family members were out in the yard enjoying the beautiful evening weather. Maisie was an attraction to the littlest girl as she reached her hand and said, “Me woof-woof” to Maisie.

I went back to my garage and carried the big house down the lane. When the littlest girl saw the house she began to smile and bounce up and down with joy. I grinned at her excitement, my heart warming to her enthusiasm. She began to play with it immediately, right there in the driveway. Her 15-year old cousin, the one who had played with my grand girls, began to help her pull furniture and tiny people from the box and place them in the house.

The experience was melancholy for me. It begins to close one era, the childhood of my grandchildren. They are growing up, each one of them gradually turning into young adults.

I walked back to my house, my eyes a little misty, remembering their childhood and how much of it I got spend with them, how precious those days together were. It is a gift I don’t take lightly.

As I talk to those young women who are now my grand girls and my growing-up grand boy, they sound mature in many ways. They are looking toward the future, and I wonder what God has in store for them.

I pray for His hand on their lives, that He will direct their choices, that He will show them His path.

Life changes and life changes us. We have to accept it, allow it to help us develop and blossom. We are always becoming, even as we age.  If we dig our heals in and refuse to see change as an opportunity, we will stagnate.

I anticipate a different kind of relationship with my growing-up grandchildren, one where we share ideas and experiences and we begin to relate as adult to adult. They will always be my sweet Grands no matter how old they get.

The dollhouse has left the building. It’s OK. The memories are still here.

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Simply remembering

I planted the last of my perennials today.  Fall planting is not as exciting as spring planting, but I anticipate beauty will surprise me in the months following snow.  After the plants were watered, I sat to rest on the swing in the front yard.

fall 2013 008Sitting there in that spot, I suddenly had waves of nostalgia overtake me.  I remembered the years when our grandchildren-too-far-away lived next door and the fun we shared in this very yard.

I recalled us playing badminton without a net and the accomplishment of them learning to keep the birdie in the air. My mind could see our son and daughter-in-love holding onto and running beside the two-wheeled bikes as the children tried to balance for the first time.  I saw picnics on blankets under the trees, kids swinging on ropes attached to limbs and climbing higher than I thought was safe.

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There sat the old wagon that once belonged to our son and had pulled the next generation.  And the pole house in the back yard that still leans.  Each year we wondered if this is the season that house falls to the ground.

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I remember when we squeezed onto the swing to rest or to talk, looking up at the feathery leaves above our heads.  And there was that one autumn, a Sunday afternoon and all three grands with us, when we heard the faint sound of cranes.  We searched the sky, scanning the horizons until we finally saw flocks of birds flying so high they looked tiny.  The thread of birds up above seemed to go forever.  It was that once in a life time experience that we got to share.

Again we sat on the swing together while parents took the family’s beloved dog, Blessing, to the vet for the final good-bye.  We waited until it was time to go to the grave site where our sorrow mingled.

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I resisted tears as I sat on the swing this afternoon.  Instead I chose to rejoice in those years when our activties were interwoven regularly. I said it out loud, “They were good years.”  It’s true that I don’t get to see my grandchildren as often as I would like anymore.  The road is long between us now.  There’s that longing for their physical presence, something texts, phone calls, and even skype cannot satisfy.

I could let myself be sad, feel deprived.  But today, I simply remembered the good years and was thankful for them.

Resurrection cookies

Day 33 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Make Resurrection Cookies with a child, yours or someone else’s.

Today my friend Robin and her kiddos visit to share an activity that teaches a lesson, making Resurrection Cookies.  Then they get to eat the results.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

“One of my absolute favorite things in life is baking with my girls.  We bake cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it.  We pick our treat, don our aprons, and get messy . . . I mean busy.

Tonight as we act silly and have fun measuring out ingredients. we also reflect on the sacrifice of Christ and the salvation He offers. The girls take turns adding ingredients and reading scriptures.  We talk about how badly Jesus was beaten and ridiculed by the soldiers, how He was given vinegar to drink when He was thirsty, how His death brought life to His children, the salty tears of the women who loved Jesus, the sweetness of His love for us, and the blood of the Lamb that washes our sins away and makes us white as snow.

The discussion was light and fun.  Memories were being made.

 After the cookies were in the oven and the door taped shut, the girls went to bed.  We sat and talked about the cookies and reflected on the ingredients and the significance of each. 

As I kissed the girls good-night I asked them to think what the cookies might look like in the morning.   I do the same as I lay my head down to sleep. 

NEXT MORNING

GOOD MORNING!  It’s time to check on the cookies!

The girls removed the tape from the oven door in excitement.  They wanted to see what had happened to the cookies overnight.  They didn’t look much different than the night before.  Curious Maddie poked the top of a cookie and crushed it.  Then Emma noticed holes in the tops of other cookies.   I cut one open and we discovered the cookies were hollow.   Before I had a chance to ask them about the empty-looking cookies, Emma smiled and said, “ah-h-h, just like the empty tomb!

 

Yes, that’s it!  The final symbolism is the empty cookie representing the empty tomb!  

The power of death could not hold our Jesus!  He has risen

As we get closer to the season of Passover and Resurrection Sunday,  I remember the importance the Israelites placed on passing stories down to their children and grandchildren.  As we talk about Jesus, we can also make memories our children and grandchildren will share with future generations. 

These cookies are easy and fun to make.  If you don’t have children in your home, make them with your grandchildren.  No grandchildren around?  Borrow someone else’s children!  The memories will be just as special for you.”

For the recipe for Resurrection Cookie, go here.

Here is a list of supplies and ingredients you will need for this project:

Supplies:
1 cup pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Zipper baggy
Wooden spoon
Mixing bowl
Mixer
Cookie sheet
Spoons
Tape
Bible