We have so much different. We have so much hard. There are times in great supply when we wonder how much more we can take. There are so many times that we just so want to make sure the kids have great childhoods and try as we might, it just doesn't seem like that's happening.
Holidays are hard in new ways.
Broken routine is everywhere. New stuff adorns a few parts of the house, mommy is busy cooking and baking, there are extra people.
I looked forward to this as a child. Very few of the people I looked forward to seeing are still alive. Sometimes they're at my house! Other times, we're with the newer folks I look forward to chatting with around the table.
There's always been something about the table in our family. Everything seems to happen around the kitchen table. I sat for hours on my mom's lap as a child, listening to the adults visit over coffee and pie, beer and chips, beans and cornbread. I couldn't wait to be able to sit and visit like they did. With them.
I guess I didn't realize they couldn't wait for me to get older. They all got older too.
But as they fade away, as they go on to be with the Lord, new folks come along. The younger ones get older, as did I. Just look at this beautiful young lady holding my daughter.
That's my baby sister! Would you believe she was in my lap in high school and college just like I was my mom's? And now look at her. We had a wonderful time being together over the weekend.
Someday this little lady will be at the table, too. And Lord willing, her little ones will join us as well.
Can't forget the boys. Oh, my sweet princes! Here's the family shot, also known as the best I could do before they were ready to grab their shorts and t-shirts. I think I actually mentioned to them that they should humor their mother. Two of them were still. I think that's a pretty great score!
Richie will join us to visit around the table. Maybe not all the time, because he does like quiet. But he does love his family.
Then there's our big boy. The one who is teaching me to love. The one who God used to stretch my definition of what love is. What faithful is.
He remembers the kitchen table I grew up around. He asks for the hands who taught me to prepare the food to draw the important ones.
I wish he could tell me what he remembers, but he remembers. The littles don't, or they don't remember much. They were simply too young. But he remembers her. And her microwave. It was black. He's right.
I remember dropping eggs in brightly colored cups with the one who helped them Saturday. We used Nanny's white cups for the deep colors. They were just the right size. I remember the pretty blonde girl as she dyed her fingertips as much as the eggs as the same fingers show my precious ones how it's done.
The eggs bring more memories. The yellow counter, the dresses that came with sunhats. The sunrise service, the pies, the ham, the sprawling backyard and the twenty-four technicolor eggs we hid... or were there thirty?
And as the hunt commences, I remember another little boy and little girl hunting eggs. We hid, they hunted, then repeated. Then there were the baskets full of candy and bunnies always waiting in the front entrance.
He loves microwaves. He draws them, looks at them, remembers them. He hasn't been to Nanny's in nearly three years, and he remembers what kind of microwave she had. He can tell you not only the color, but the brand, and that it had a turntable.
The anchors in his memory may be different than mine, but they are there. Maybe someday he can tell me what else he retained from those days on the hill on Morris Creek road. But the memories I have painted a backdrop that each of us in the family has a part of.
The rest we paint as we live our days.
From bright to dark, sparkling to dull and every shade between we dip our brushes and paint our family culture. Starting with the set we were given, we add a bit here, erase a bit there. We cover over the things we didn't like, looking to the Master Painter to choose our colors more cautiously. Carefully. Purposefully.
Because they remember.
We read the stories of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection because they remember.
We do the Easter things we do because they remember.
Because just as you can't see what multicolored fingertips bring to my mind, we can't see what Nanny's black microwave brings in Ryan's.
Because I hope and pray that they remember these things we did and see not just some good memories, tasty food, and people they love... but that they see the love of Christ in every brushstroke.
Thanks be to God for the brush, the colors, and the inspiration.