Thursday, December 29, 2016


Sometimes it's just not possible to be ready for something to happen. But it does, anyway.

New years are often like that for me. I'm not ready to relinquish the old year, but there it goes. I'm not ready to take on the challenges and adventures (I hope) of the next year, but here it is, sitting in my lap.

Today Thursday's Child is looking at what other people think about the old and the new. And we're going to read some wise words from people you'll recognize. Enjoy!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. Oprah Winfrey

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives. Steven Spielberg


I won't be awake at midnight Saturday to welcome 2017. But I'll be wishing you the best year ever! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016


[Today's post is a repeat of the Christmas message a couple of years ago. I hope it speaks to you in this sometimes hectic season.]

Have you ever had one of those Christmases like Charlie Brown talks about? "Christmas is coming but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. There must be something wrong with me, Linus." 

Probably many of us have had that experience--but we don't like to admit it, or talk about it. This year is one of those Charlie Brown Christmases for me--I've been unable to get to the Y due to weather; I didn't get to my family gathering, again due to weather; and I've had my attention on the sewing machine for so long that I don't know if there's anything else going on in the world. 

So today, let's listen to Linus Van Pelt: "This is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Luke 2:8-14 King James Version (KJV)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
A Blessed Christmas to you!

From Thursday's Child

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Now, in December, is a time of uncertainty.

Here in northeastern Indiana we are sliding toward winter . . . we watch the forecast each evening, then again in the morning. (Do we think there was a radical change in eight or ten hours? Could be.)

We make plans, always with the disclaimer, “Weather permitting.”

Early morning finds us with the radio, TV, or Internet tuned to Closings and Delays.

Despite our inability to make definite, iron-clad, positively firm decisions about times, dates, and events, we still rub along rather well.

Yes, something may be cancelled at the last minute. We’ll get a text, tweet, or email on our phone. Or if we’re truly dinosaurs with no technological skills beyond the old-fashioned telephone, we’ll get a telephone call. Or we can turn on the radio. We can watch for the streamer along the bottom of the TV screen that lists dozens of closings.

What do you do with your suddenly “free” time? Are you shoved into that niche between a rock and a hard place, trying to juggle child care with your job?

Or do you do a little Snoopy dance and make a list of all the fun things you can do in this day that comes as a gift? 

Do you heave a sigh of relief, knowing you will, after all, have the leisure to finish that knitting/sewing/painting/carving you’ve been working on for months? (This year I may actually get the Christmas quilts, afghans, and pillow covers finished before our family gatherings. May is the operative word.)

Another uncertainty, besides weather, is car trouble. Can I depend on my car to make the hour-long trip to Ohio for our Christmas together? And then for the trip home?

(At this very moment, my car is at the automotive center where I get things fixed. Like me, the car is aging: little creaks and twinges, engine noises and other signs of potential trouble. Prevention is preferable to a cure.)

If you’re currently in a “time out,” consider cooking. Look in your pantry, freezer, and fridge—use what you have. Missing an ingredient? Improvise! Invent something new.

And if you’re plumb out of ideas, or nothing looks good, browse through the online recipe sites. always has great ideas, including pictures that look good enough to eat. (I'm fixated on soups, as you may recall from older posts. But cookies are tempting me lately; Liz Flaherty posted a Texas Sheet Cake Cookie recipe recently. But don't even look at it unless you want to gain weight reading the ingredients.)

The Uncertain Season, sadly, isn’t limited to winter weather (whatever hemisphere you live in) or elderly vehicles with "health issues."

Life itself is often--or should I say mostly--uncertain. So how do we cope with that?

I came across an article in an old issue of Woman’s Day by contributing editor Heather Lende, called “Finding Gratitude.” Gratitude, Lende says, “is not the same as giving thanks. It comes from a deeper place that knows the story could have ended differently, and often does.”

Maybe that’s the point—we have to find gratitude. It may be as small as discovering the noise in my car isn’t a death rattle, only a loose bolt. Or as large as knowing the local regional hospital will be keeping preemie babies warm in the 80-some blankets we gave them in December (all made possible because we had two or three extra stitchers working this year).

One sure way to find gratitude is to, well, look for it. Did your friend survive her cancer surgery? Are your new neighbors settling in? Did a family who lost their home get food, clothing, furniture, and a place to stay, all because the community pulled together?

Large or small, personal or global, reasons for gratitude are everywhere. Take a look.

May you find gratitude, and may it help you through The Uncertain Season of your life.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


My father was a carpenter most of his life. He designed, built, and then sold our houses. When each one sold, he went through the process again. And again.

After each project was finished, I don't recall any excess lumber or scraps of roofing or siding hanging around. I've no clue what happened to them, but I know they went some place; they were never left to clutter up the area around our house.

My mother was a homemaker; even though she sometimes worked out in the marketplace, she was first and foremost a housewife. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry and ironed; her house was always uncluttered. (Let me say right here, I did not inherit this gene for a clean slate.)

Tidying up was natural to my parents, and to many of their generation. Even if they stored the remaining scraps of wood or leftover food from a meal, the goal was for the place to look good. (Plus, who knows when we might need a board just two feet long, or a little dish of peas to put in the chicken-vegetable soup.)

We've just come through one big holiday, with food looming large in the picture.

Soon we'll be facing another (or several other) holiday meal(s) to celebrate with family and friends during the Christmas season.

This post isn't about food. Or, at least, not much. Leftovers are . . . well, what remains after a meal. Some folks love 'em, some won't touch 'em. Freezers are ideal if you just can't face one more meal of chicken/turkey/ham/roast beef/tofu. And if you have no idea what to do about leftovers, go to your grocery store and scan the magazine section--at last count, I found 17 different periodicals devoted to food, all on the newsstand at the same time.

Okay, that's all about food.

I hear you asking, What other kinds of leftovers are there? 

Just about anything you can name. Leavings when all the gifts have been opened (paper, string, ribbon, gift bags, cards, instructions, small parts of a Lego set . . .). A few minutes and a big trash bag will take care of the problem. (Just don't bag up the instructions or the Lego.)

Old items of clothing that are replaced by new shirts, sweaters, socks, jackets . . . . Your favorite charity will love you for bringing in your former beloved items.

Books, games, CDs, DVDs whose entertainment value has sunk upon Christmas morn when the newest, and latest, and the next big-big-big thing is in your stocking. Not to mention anything technological. Check around your community--some places ask for donations of specific items like these.

The saddest kind of leftovers are lost relationships--broken families--friendships that didn't weather a particularly bad storm.

The leftover part is the memory of what the relationship once was--that memory may never go away. And if the memories are good ones, maybe they shouldn't go away. But the regrets we often have--ah, there's the rub. Sometimes we just can't face these losses.

This year, I move that we all make an effort to adopt the Tidy-Up Principle: forgive ourselves, and others; examine our regrets and let them go, if we can; and turn our eyes and minds and hearts toward peace. Toward love for others, whoever they are. Toward being the best person each of us can be.

All in favor, say "aye."

May your days be merry and bright.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


(Every so often I reread old posts on Thursday's Child. I find going back to older writings helps me keep track of how much has changed. Or, not. Family Matters is one that still applies to us. I've changed only a couple of things to update.)

This month our family celebrates two birthdays for my greatgrandsons. The other six greats are scattered throughout the year: January, July, August, September, November.

My four grandchildren are bunched in the first half of the year: January, April, and May.

The rest of us fill in around them, except for October. My fullest month for birthday cards is January--six of us! (Although I don't send one to myself.)

Life's like that--bunched up, scattered out, filling in around the rest of life.

Geographically we're widespread:
  • I'm from Illinois, currently living in Indiana.
  • One daughter in Arizona.
  • One daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons and their families, in Ohio.
  • My son, daughter-in-law, and both grandsons in Indiana.
  • One daughter in Minnesota.
We have four blended families--which apparently makes us a truly American family!
But not a close family, you say? True, in geographical terms. But in ways that count--we're very close.

I've been thinking of all the ways we keep in touch.

Some of us are Dinosaurs--we still like to write by hand with pen on paper, fold up the sheets and stuff them in an envelope, write the (correct) street address on the outside of the envelope, stick on a stamp, make sure the flap is stuck down, and put the end product in the drop box at the Post Office downtown.

Most of these missives are sent to other Dinosaurs, who love to pop open the mailbox and see a fat envelope with their name on it, written in the wonky hand of a child, best friend, or even an acquaintance. At my house, such letters or notes require a fresh cup of hot tea and a lamp shining on the pages while I curl up in the rocker to read. May take only three minutes. May take fifteen. But it's there for re-reading later. What did she say about her home ec club? What was that crazy thing her husband did the other day?

Dinosaurs may be dinosaurs, but they have a lot of fun.

Then there are the techno-geeks. Email, text, fax, scan, upload photos from your phone or digital camera (now nearly a dinosaur toy)--launch it out through the ether into the computer/phone/tablet/pod of your favorite geek. With Skype, we visit in living color and sound. (These innovations were science fiction in my earlier years. Now they're your everyday occurrence.)

That's all fun, too. Even for Dinosaurs.

Other new ways we can stay in touch: Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing; blogs, websites; or if you want to really go retro, pick up the phone and call--you know, hit a speed dial number for Mom or enter the number with your personal digits (fingers). Mom probably won't answer if she's at Tai Chi that morning, but you can leave a voicemail message, and she'll return your call and leave a message on your machine. Believe me, texting is quicker.

Our family may not live in each other's pockets, or spend a lot of face time together. But we have our connections--interest in each other's lives, joy in watching the little 'uns grow, anticipation of get-togethers.

In December quite a few of our clan will gather at the Ohio daughter's house--no traditional meal this time (that was Thanksgiving), just everybody's foodie contribution, with plenty of conversation, gifts for one and all, and the satisfaction of four generations meeting to celebrate Christmas.

Our way isn't everybody's cup of tea--it's just the way we do it.

Hope you celebrate your way...and enjoy every moment.

(Here's our newest family member, Bayne Overmyer, born in August. Birth weight was 2.2 lbs. Now he's up to 6 lbs. and doing well!)

Thursday, November 24, 2016


You may be reading this the Day After, while you're still digesting turkey/ham/chicken or whatever, with stuffing/potatoes/green beans/jello salad, and pie/pie/pie. And whipped cream. And rolls (almost forgot the rolls) with real butter and homemade jelly. 

In case you're reading it today, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I'm looking forward to a sumptuous feast tomorrow at my Ohio daughter's house.

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on Thanksgiving from other folks. 

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” –William Faulkner

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." --Erma Bombeck


Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. Jim Davis


Some closing thoughts, borrowed from somewhere:

     Live well -- Laugh often -- Love always!

And give thanks!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

When I began this blog three years ago, my goal was to celebrate life. Good things, questionable things. Best of times, worst of times. Take a deeper look at what's going on in life, ordinary everyday life, and see what we might learn from it. 

Here's what I wrote in the first post:

     There's so much to celebrate in life! Always something
     to discover, to explore; something new to learn or teach;
     new books, new activities, new ideas. New friends, new
     neighbors to serve. New Day equals New Adventure.

I still believe that.

The month of November is officially half over, and we are on the slippery slope toward Christmas, New Year's, and then a whole new calendar for 2017.

In November we've celebrated a variety of events: Daylight Savings Time ended; Election Day came and went; we honored our military personnel on Veteran's Day; and next week we'll gather as families or friends to observe Thanksgiving Day. In my family, we also have two birthdays--a granddaughter-in-law and a great-grandson.

Here's a partial list of what happens in our country during a calendar year:

  • honoring veterans
  • giving thanks
  • welcoming the Christ Child
  • welcoming a new year
  • saying "I Love You"
  • observing Easter
  • honoring the dead
  • remembering our country's birth as a nation
  • honoring workers
  • remembering a birthday
  • saying "I'm thinking of you"
Greeting card companies certainly encourage us to celebrate. So do all commercial enterprises that sell foods, household goods, toys, etc., not to mention decorations. (Halloween has become big in our area--orange lights, ghosts great and small, inflated monsters of dubious ancestry.)

All these events got me wondering. Why is it that we limit ourselves to one day for our celebrations? I'm not lobbying for a week-long hoop-la or "every day is [whatever] day."

And I'm not trying to start a protest here. First thing you know, it'll become an issue, then a movement. If we're not vigilant, we could get so much support we'd become a national institution, demanding our very own day, with a Forever stamp named for us. Cards/decorations/T-shirts with our logo would flood the market.

My thoughts run to the idea of: Why don't we keep the spirit of the event alive?

The Veteran's Day celebration at my church was very moving. Six veterans from a rehab house came to visit and processed down the aisle carrying the colors (flags) of each of the branches of the military. These men looked so serious, so stern. They were not in uniform, but they carried themselves with dignity. I had a hard time finishing the hymn we were singing because of the lump in my throat.

Because one of my grandsons is a veteran, I think of our military personnel often during the year. That's what I mean about keeping the spirit of the celebration alive.

Facebook's 30 Days of Gratitude has brought the practice of giving thanks to the attention of many folks. It's not just a Thanksgiving Day thing.

In my community, people put flowers on the graves of their family members and friends all year through, not only at Memorial Day. We honor all who have died.

In July we have our fireworks displays, picnics, parades . . . another time for remembering those who died in the process of making us a nation.

Labor Day has become a long weekend for vacations or other kinds of events. Yet the reason for the day was to honor workers in our country. Despite unemployment statistics, many people work.


I doubt that many people forget to say "I love you" to those who mean a lot to them. Some people say they don't remember birthdays, not even their own; but I do remember birthdays, my own, those of my family and friends, and even people I don't know well. (Don't ask me why--I don't know.) And I often send little "thinking of you" cards--not much message needed; to know a person is thought of makes a difference.

The stores are already in Christmas mode. My orientation is Christian, so I'm on the welcoming committee for the Christ Child. Celebrations for Christmas need not be lavish. My favorite way to celebrate Christmas is with family--eating a meal together, sharing gifts, catching up on news, seeing the newest baby (in pictures, if not in person). And I try to keep the message of "peace on earth" alive all year through.

Think about how you celebrate--your favorites may not be mine. See if you can come up with a way to keep the spirit of the event alive in your life.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Some days are better than others. Doubt that I'll get an argument on that.

Some weeks, also, are better than others. There's not much joy in a week that starts out fine and ends, um, crappy. And in my experience, ones that start out crappy, seldom straighten themselves out into something nice.

My past week was a Very Good Week.

Last Friday my sewing group started using Christmas fabrics for the NICU blankets and pillow cases. Yes, we're early for the season, but I wrote last time about preparing ahead of time. The NICU will have Christmas blankies and pillow cases in December.

Saturday I went to the library for something to read (none of the several hundred books in my house called my name); later I spent a couple of hours playing with fabrics for one of the Christmas gift quilts I'm making this year. A quiet day, but I did things I love.

Sunday I rejoiced with everyone who is thrilled to pieces to have Standard Time again. And I appreciated the extra hour of sleep. In the afternoon I had a long, satisfying visit via phone with my Minnesota daughter who hopes to visit in person early in December.

Monday--back to the Y to walk. Then spent most of the morning with Teri, the quilter who is going to turn one of my quilts into a work of art. After conferring with her on the design and the color of thread, I raided her shelves for fabrics to supplement what I had on hand for a third quilt that will also be for a Christmas gift. In the afternoon I did a load of laundry. 

A lovely surprise on Monday--I got a real letter (hand-written on paper, and everything) from my Arizona daughter. For those of us who grew up with hand-written letters that got addressed, stamped, and popped into drop boxes at the P.O., that missive from the great Southwest made my day.

Tuesday--Election Day. I voted in the morning, did some shopping. Found the travel pillows I'd been looking for at Walmart. Came home to discover my yard man had hauled leaves from the backyard out to the curb in front. That saved my back, legs, feet, and shoulders. In the evening I visited my Ohio daughter on her supper break; we talked about Thanksgiving dinner. Always a happy conversation.

Wednesday--Learned my Arizona daughter passed her dissertation defense, "with some manageable revisions." Such great news! Years of effort are having their reward.

Also on Wednesday, I received a fabric order--12 yards of flannel ordered online to finish up some blankets for the NICU. I now have two greens, a bright Christmas red, and a soft blue called Alaskan Blue. That night I cut more blankets.

That's my week up to the moment. 

Tomorrow we'll observe Veteran's Day. On Sunday veterans from a rehab house to participate in our church service by carrying the flags for the different branches of our military, then staying for a pot luck meal with the congregation.

Before long I'll be thinking about what to make for Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter's house in Ohio. And cutting and stitching more quilts, blankets, and pillow cases, finishing up the Christmas gift quilts. 

In the meantime, I'm not allowing disappointments about the recent election to cloud my days and weeks. As a friend of mine has often said, "Every four years in the U.S. we have a revolution. We call it an election, but often the results become revolutionary." By now I should be used to the every-4-year-revolution. 

Yes, there'll be good weeks, not-so-good weeks, truly awful weeks . . . . I don't recall anyone promised me a rose garden, a paradise on earth, or a life without challenges. I'm glad they didn't--I might've been taken in and believed what they said. On the other hand, no one ever told me life was going to be one bad thing after another. Thanks be for that.

My findings: Sometimes life is good. Sometimes it's not as good as I want it to be. But it's life and I still have things to do and learn and see. Hope your life is good as well.

Right now, I'm up to my earrings in flannel and Christmas fabric.

Anyone want a job sewing?

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Yes, it sure is.

The rush into the Christmas season has never received my vote. I like to savor the holidays that come before December 25th, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. 

My costume-and-mask days are long gone, but now that folks decorate with strings of orange lights and ghosts/vampires/pumpkins inflated to gargantuan size, I can get into the mood. Our street, being so short, has stopped tempting young trick-or-treaters, so we don't get to see their ingenious costumes.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is more my style. Wonder if that's because it's such a good-food day? (I'm a self-confessed foodie.) I look forward to golden roasted turkey, savory stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes a la Alan, corn casserole, veggie tray (yes, really), cranberry sauce, and pie, pie, pie! There are usually three pies: pumpkin, apple, and butterscotch. The pumpkin and apple are made by my Ohio daughter from her own produce. The butterscotch is a special recipe, made by the same daughter's stepson, Adam (he's perfecting his grandmother's recipe). 

All that said . . . at my house, at this very moment, it's indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

This year, for the first time, I've developed a little sympathy with folks who design, manufacture, select, sell, and otherwise deal in the items we shop for at this season. I'm not making items to sell, but I am in the production end of things.

Tomorrow will be Heart and Hands' first sewing day in November--what we make on the Fridays this month will go to the NICU for December. What better time to get out the Christmas fabrics I've collected over the years?
future pillow cases

My living and dining rooms (not separated by a wall or doorway) become the focal point for pressing, cutting, pressing again, then folding and stacking for various stitchers. So far I have three stacks--one for Frances, who works at home; one for Marilyn, who is recovering from surgery and can do smaller pieces when we sew at the church; and another one for myself. 

The motifs range from Santas--Old Worlde, new world, whatever--to snowflakes on a green background--to Pooh Bear and a bunch of gift-wrapped packages--to abstract red triangles that suggest (maybe) pine trees. My personal favorite has a gray background with leafless trees and evergreens, white dots that look like a snowstorm, and cows standing around in the snow. The motifs are fairly small (cows may be 2 inches long). 

One reason I'm inundated with Christmas fabric on November 3rd is that these items can be finished in time for December delivery to the NICU, leaving me free to finish Christmas gifts for my family. Yesterday I received fabric ordered for a quilt for a 7-year-old great-grandson. Three smaller projects are cut and ready to sew. And another sewing project is in the works, after I work out the fabrics or design. (Had to save something for December!)

In a few days, I'll be ready to put on White Christmas and let Bing and Rosemary serenade me while I create. 

But I'm still looking forward to the turkey and pumpkin and butterscotch pies.

So much to be thankful for: people who want to make blankets for babies at risk; good weather so we can get to the church for sewing; family meals coming soon with their abundance of delicious food, love and laughter . . . so much.

I hope your life is truly blessed.

Blankies & Pillow Cases for the NICU

Thursday, October 27, 2016


(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I'm borrowing her phrase, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." From Sonnet 43 in Sonnets from the Portuguese.)

This is my love song to Autumn.

I love Autumn for its colors--never the same twice; adjusted and revised, tinted and deepened, over and over and over. Leaves, flowers, pumpkins, cornstalks.

I love Autumn for its fragrances--smoke from wood-burning fireplaces and stoves; the last barbecue of the season; the wine-y smell of fresh apples gathered into the barn at a local orchard; the spice of chrysanthemums ready to plant in flower beds.

I love Autumn for its sounds--lawn mowers and leaf blowers, the municipal vacuum truck; homeowners and carpenters finishing the last bit of repair or construction before the weather changes; rain--wind-blown or gentle--against the roof at night.

I love Autumn for the tastes we create, now that we can heat up the oven--raisin-studded oatmeal cookies, muffins, brownies (so quick to make!), apple pies and fruit crisps; chili in the slow cooker; pork roast with root veggies in the oven; soup, any kind, just so it's soup.

I love Autumn for the touch of soft leather gloves, the rasp of a hand-knitted scarf against my chin; the weight of a shawl or ruana over my turtleneck; corduroys and heavy denims for warmth. And socks! Heavy socks, reaching up the shins to keep out chilly air.

As I gathered my thoughts for this post, a phrase kept playing in my mind: "Heaven and Nature sing!"

Well, of course they do! In every season Heaven and Nature sing a different song. I celebrate all of them--yes, even summer, my least favorite--but my true love is Autumn.

Even when we have the little season called Indian Summer, with its few days of sun and warmth, Autumn is much too short. Frosty nights are a foretaste of weather to come. 

But until that time, celebrate Autumn. Revel in her colors and tastes. Make room for cookies and soups. Heat up the outdoor grill one last time. Wrap up warm and go to your favorite team's football game.

Yes, indeed. Heaven and Nature sing!


Thursday, October 20, 2016


Yesterday I attended a funeral at my church. Hilda was 97 years old when she passed, and she had been a member there long before I came on the scene. But she was a part of my church life from the first day I attended, because she and her seatmate always sat directly in front of me. (We don't really have assigned seats, but we might as well have.)

There weren't many there for the service. Most of Hilda's contemporaries are also gone. We did meet her two children, both of whom live in New York State, plus other family members. But the folks who came--my, how they sang and prayed and recited Psalm 23 together! We celebrated the life of a woman we had all known, to one degree or another.

In my 20s and 30s I dreaded going to funerals--they were so, well, funereal. 

My first experience of the Celebration of Life service was 45 years ago in a church I attended when my children were young. Yes, we mourn the one who has passed. Yes, we may be saddened by the suddenness of the death. And yes, if we are adults, we naturally are reminded of our mortality. 

But we also celebrate the faith and recount stories about the one whom we see no longer--the funny things, the odd things, even the ornery things that have occurred. Yesterday, Hilda's son said his mom was indeed strict. He remembered it well, along with what she did to keep the family going in hard times. A caregiver and close friend of Hilda's remembered her as strong, stubborn, hardheaded--and loving, joyful, a true friend. She told little-known anecdotes about Hilda's escapades when eating out with a group from church.

I love those stories. They illustrate that we are all a jumble of characteristics. We're not paper dolls; we're not formed in a mold. Listening to Hilda's friend and her children, we got a true picture of the Hilda most of us knew. And if you were a stranger in the congregation that day, you would feel as if you knew her, too.


Do you tell family stories to your children or grandchildren? Or to nieces and nephews? 

Many adults I talk with don't remember their grandparents. Family stories can fill in those gaps. They give us a sense of connection we wouldn't otherwise have. The stories may even explain why our family lived the way it did--and where it did. 

We are such a mobile society that the stories are more important than ever. I was born in Illinois, moved to Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, and finally Indiana. My children were born in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. Whenever our family gets together for a visit, we often play the "Do you remember" game. What one remembers, another may not. And most often--the memories are very, very different. Makes for a spirited visit, let me tell you.

Storytelling is an art--no doubt about that. But that doesn't prevent each one of us from taking part. A story can be as short as telling your young children their grandparents' given names. Or it can be more involved, explaining where your ancestors came from, if you know; or bringing to life the cultural differences in your family. 

If your storytelling starts getting complicated, try writing down the anecdotes and experiences you'd like to share. No one is going to grade your work, so feel free to express yourself as you would if you were talking to your audience. 

Can't get started? Then try the traditional approach:
     "Once upon a time, there was . . . ."

Works every time.