Journey with Janette
Bill and I will be married 50 years this coming August. The 4th to be exact. As we were thinking what we would want to do to make that a special, meaningful event, we knew that we wanted to make it a marking off place for our family more than for anyone else. Sorry those of you that are in the anyone else folder...lol.
We decided to take the entire family, our three sons, three daughter-in-laws and eight grandchildren to Disney World. Looking at everyone's schedule it was obvious that the only time that each person in our family had free was over Christmas break.
So, we made reservations for two suites and one small room. Combining families in different ways, we knew that that arrangement would work. (Those who know me will know that when I say "we" I really mean Bill. He is the detail person in this marriage. I am the idea person.)
We were at Disney from Christmas Eve until New Year's Eve. Everyone in the family was touched not so much with Disney, but with how well the members of the Stone family got along. Each one felt a freedom to do what they chose to do and also not do what they did not want to do.
I, of course, took the little figurines I have written about in the last Journey With Janette. So the first evening there we went through the story of how the Stones have become a family, starting with again, the snowmen of Papa and Grandma. Afterwards I started a prayer and Papa was to finish it after giving anyone who wanted to the opportunity to pray. Can I tell you that when hearing 8 year old Peter thanking God and then 4 year old Jonah thanking Him also, my heart was full?
Thinking back on this time and seeing the attitude of the family toward each other, being who I am doing what I have spent so many years doing as a counselor, I needed to know what brought about that acceptance of each other even though there are so many different personalities in the Stone family.
The one thing I know that has made acceptance, comfort and allowing others to just be, is the absence of gossip. I do not talk about one son to another, nor one daughter-in-law to another. And the same holds true with Bill. In fact Bill and I do not spend time when there is just the two of us critiquing our children and their families. So, I guess it is not so much what is in the family that made the Disney trip so easy, it is what is not in the family.
Christmas is coming rapidly and many of us are planning just what we will have for dinner that day as all the family gathers, if we are fortunate enough to have them all available to celebrate together the birth of that significant, important baby ..... Jesus.
I thought I would share some of the things that have become tradition in the Stone family at Christmas, hoping that some might be able to incorporate some of the things shared into their own Christmas Day.
We have 3 sons and 3 daughter in-laws and 8 grandchildren. So, thinking about this celebration day usually is happening throughout the year. I am the one who buys the gifts for the girls, (my name for the daughter-in-laws) and Bill buys for the boys, (that would be our sons who are in their 40's). As for the 8 grandchildren, we count on our sensitivity to whatever stage they are in for that particular year. Their ages range from 17 to 4. We make sure that everyone has 3 packages to open.
The children (remembering again that the "children" have children of their own) draw names by family, one family buying wholly for another family, children and all. I did not organize nor do I handle that, it is not my responsibililty. I do not know what family is guying for what family and that makes my life a little simpler as I sometimes truly do remember that the "children" are actually grown-ups.
As we gather around the tree, the grandchildren, with their long legs and all, sit on the floor and I ask why do we have Christmas. I still remember vividly the Christmas that our little Peter said, "Jesus, and He lives in our hearts." Tapping his chest as he told us.
After the grandchildren have discussed why we have Christmas, I talk about "our" family. The Stone Family. One of our daughter in-laws gave us for Christmas a creche one year and each member of the Stone family is represented in it by its own figurine. They are mad with three small wooden balls, placed one on top of the other, with a plaid fabric scarf tied at the throat of each. Each one has their name painted on it, one for Papa, one for Grandma, and one for each member of the family.
Each year I first place Papa and Grandma in the creche, saying a little of how we met and married, then that along came Chris, our oldest, then Brian, then
Danny, placing them in the creche. Then I start with Chris marrying Marilyn, Brian marrying Cathy and Danny marrying Wendy. As the "girls" are mentioned, I place their figurine in the appropriate place in the creche. And the, as you can tell where I am going, I place each grandchild in the creche next to their parents in order of their birth.
As every year goes by I add more to the history of our family and then as each year goes by the people that make up the Stone family has the opportunity to feel a part of something bigger than themselves and also an opportunity to know the security a family gives us.
Wanted to share this at this time, thinking that it just may be that you could gather together a few wooden balls about an inch wide for the grandpas and grandmas, a few slightly smaller for the children that come along because of the love Grandpa and Grandma have for each other, and then a few more even slightly smaller because Grandpa's and Grandma's children have also found love.
After all of the Stones are safely placed in the creche, a prayer is said and then the grandchildren take turns passing out gifts. As more are passed out the more colored paper is thrown on the floor, there is the sound of loud voices and happy laughter, celebrating the birth of their Savior and the love of their family.
I have been struck these past few months of the continual movement of life. It seems that we are living at home with our parents, going to school and then suddenly we are packing our gear, moving either just to our “own” place or some type of additional schooling.
Then rapidly we are searching for a job and trying to figure out just what the grown-up world is all about….which really means just how do I pay my bills, get a car to drive to the job I have finally gotten and buy the necessary clothes so I no longer look like a school girl.
Who was to know that that fine looking young man that I happened to meet was going to be “the one”? I quickly find myself looking for a wedding dress and choosing bridesmaids and then find myself married to that fine looking young man.
The house is full of noise, toys and chaos as the children have come and are evolving into real people going to pre-school, grade school, high school and the graduation party is being planned. Then, I watch as they go off, get jobs, meet spouses and have children.
If we are not careful, we begin to think as Solomon did in Ecclesiastes 1:9.(.”What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, nothing new under the sun.”) Making us unaware of the dramatic twist and turns each individual life offers.
In 1Corinthians 2:9 we are told..”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. And even though the quickness of life is a reality, the depth of my own life experiences and the largeness of Jesus’ grand blessings that He freely gives, has me taking a deep breath and grapping hold of Him, through prayer and reading His word.