22 December 2009

A Roomful of Good

Every Christmas season, my parents host a wonderful dinner
for their children and spouses. It has become our favorite
family party of the year. We rotate the giving of gifts
to each other, with each of us gifting mom and dad as well.
The evening truly is a labor of love, from the careful meal
preparation to the hand-made gifts our parents always present us
with. Over the years we have received intricate and gorgeous cross
stitched works from my mother, afghans, genealogy compilations,
stained glass windows from my dad, and numerous different
pieces of glass work. Their gifts are always personal,
made and given with great love.

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely
for---I don't know exactly, but it's something that you don't mind
so much not having at other times.
~Kate L. Bisher~

Every now and then,
When the world sits just right,
A gentle breath of heaven
Fills my soul with delight.
~A Breath of Heaven~

Currently, I am reading Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry.
It relates the life story of a young man who was orphaned
as a child when both of his parents died in a terrible
flood. He is taken in by his Aunt and Uncle who both pass
away by the time Jayber is 12. He is sent away to a church
orphanage where he remains until he turns 18. He never
forgets the home of his childhood...Squires Landing,
in Port William. He seems inexplicably drawn back to the place of
his childhood, once he is too old to stay at the orphanage any longer.
Following is a passage from the book...some of Jayber's thoughts:

I don't remember when I did not know Port William, the
town and the neighborhood. My relation to that place,
my being in it and my absences from it, is the story of my
life...I don't remember exactly when, but I started copying
out passages [from books] that I liked into a tablet. And then
I started making what I thought were improvements on the
things I copied. Also I kept a list of words I especially liked:
independent, I remember, was one, and then self-reliant
and free and outside. There got to be a good many.
After I quit waking up afraid [those first weeks at the
orphanage], feeling that I might be nowhere, I began getting
used to the place. I began to take for granted that I was somewhere,
and somewhere that I knew, but I never quite felt that I was
somewhere I wanted to be. Where I wanted to be, always,
day in and day out, year in and year out, was Squires Landing
and all that fall of country between Port William up on the ridge and
the river between Sand Ripple and Willow Run. When I heard or read
the word home, that patch of country was what I thought of.
HOME was one of the words I wrote in my tablet.

Nothing's as mean as giving a little
child something useful for Christmas.
~Kin Hubbard~

All because two people fell in love.
Creed and Dad
Are we not like two volumes of one book?
~Marceline Valmore~
Them's some strong genes!

Oh, the comfort--the inexpressable comfort of feeling safe
with a person--having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure
words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff
and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and
sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the
breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life~

Steve and Bev
Rick and Deb
New jackets!
...and a new hat for mom. She can't have too many!
Matt and Molly

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn
of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.
~Sam Levenson~

This was so funny to me! I guess awhile back Rick and Matt
were working together to dissemble a bed. Rick did not have
many (or any?) tools. So, Matt's gift to Rick was a never ending
supply of tools. One large tool box and four or five separate
accompanying sets. The guys really got into this gift giving!

Just like Christmas morning!

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same
first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment
in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply.
~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park~

Rick's gift to Kris and I...an original...
painted by him! He titled it, Garden of Sun.
I absolutely LOVE it. The only problem I have is that
I want to hang it in my kitchen, my bedroom, and
my family room. That's not going to work!

The inscription on the back, written by Rick, reads:

Bloodlines Run Deep,
Rooted in Memory and
Entwined in Generation
Built Foundations,
Where God Blessed
Heritage Arcs
Seamlessly to Anchor
Us Firm,
Where Bloodlines
Run Deep.

A few of the vases and stands my father made for us.
Marie's vase.

Next, we head out to dad's shed where his creations come to life.
The boys are drawing numbers which will determine the order
of who gets to choose their gift first, second, third, etc.

Dad made several bowls and other "objects d'art"
with BYU inscribed within. Matt picks
first...Kris picks fifth!

Sibling relationships--and 80 percent of Americans have at least
one--outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface
after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish
in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth,
loyalty and distrust.
~Erica Goode, The Secret World of Siblings

In addition to our vases, dad let the girls each pick out
one glass medallion necklace, made by him!

But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy
something which does not represent your life and talent,
but a goldsmith's.

And, thank you for a house full of people I love.
~Ward Elliot Hour~


  1. I didn't know your dad was so artistic! And I love your new painting. It was really fun to see your parents after all these years and siblings too.

  2. Ohhh a great night! What a blessing to live so close to all of your siblings. I have great memories of everyone in that room. Rick's painting is beautiful! I don't know how you will decide where to place it...good luck.

  3. Loved that whole post. I have to say, I have always been a little curious about those sibling Christmas parties. Looks like you guys know how to have a good time, even without us kids there.
    And I laughed out loud at the picture of Grandpa and my dad. Even before I read your caption I thought, my dad is turning into Grandpa! Complete with matching argyle sweaters! How great is that.
    I'll miss you all this Christmas. I'm already a little homesick. It's good to see everyone, even if it's just in pictures.

  4. What an absolutely wonderful post. Home sweet home. I'm excited to be spending Christmas here in Georgia--as we create our own home, but a post like this one makes me miss home, the home rooted deep within. There is no place like home. What a wonderful night. I loved reading Jayber Crow and am now adding it to my list of "to read again". Anything by Wendell Berry reminds me of my dad and I can hear his voice inside my head reading aloud to us and even now, when I read his book, I don't hear my voice, but my dad's. My dad who is now a Grandpa and reads to my little girl. What a great picture of Dad and Grandpa together. Great pictures, great comments, great stories from your night, and a great post. Merry Christmas!!!

  5. How sweet... love all the made with love gifts- What a blessing to have parents still living and siblings close by.
    Thanks for sharing your gift of family.
    Have a wonderful New Year.

  6. Can I be invited next year? :) Those glass medalions are beautiful.

  7. I love how all the men in the photos (your brothers) are leaning back into that red checked couch--it just be a comfortable one. I imagine that as they lean back they say "ahhh, home." My favorite photo is the one of your brother touching your Mom's hand. So cute. And Creed does look like your Dad. Same great smile.