Newlywed Love (#123)

November 28, 1970

Study hardNate’s final exam week was beginning to weigh on him, even though it wouldn’t arrive till January. His books had been closed since the day before Thanksgiving, though, and now it was Saturday. “I’ll need to spend a few hours studying before we can shop for a Christmas tree.” He said. “Is that OK with you?”

He’d been completely available for two days, so of course it was. Our official anniversary wasn’t till the next day anyway, Sunday the 29th.

“If I study hard today,” he said, “tomorrow will be reserved for celebrating.”

It was difficult to leave him alone as he worked so close to me, but I still had lots of Christmas gift-making to keep me busy. I was hoping to make holiday aprons for several of our aunties, so I pulled out the sewing machine and got to work.

Tree on the VWTwo waist-tie aprons were nearly finished by the time Nate finally lifted his head from his books and said he was ready for a break. “Let’s go get our tree!” he said.

We settled on a 7-foot bargain from Kmart — $4.00. While we were there we chose matching angel ornaments, our picks in the 2nd annual choosing of ornaments that would happen each year. We also bought one box of all-red balls along with red tree lights.

Carrying the tree

Once we got the tree set up, we reached for the shoebox that had been stored on the high closet shelf for a year, remembering the two ornaments we’d chosen on our first Christmas together. When we opened the box, however, we were disappointed. Though Nate’s ornament looked brand new, mine was shattered in a million pieces.

 

 

My ornamentOnly the gold star from the middle was still intact. It was a sad lesson about choosing decorations wisely, but we hung the little star by itself — as a reminder. Thankfully the angel ornaments we’d chosen this year were non-breakable. And it crossed my mind that someday pudgy little child-fingers might be helping us hang these same ornaments. So non-breakable would always be best.

In Santa hat.When the tree was up and decorated, we spread out blankets and pillows on the floor beneath it — and stretched out to enjoy the red glow that filled the room with warmth.

I told Nate, “I’m so glad we had to live away from both of our families during our newlywed year. We missed them, but I think being by ourselves has helped us grow really close to each other.”

He agreed, and then we got “really close” once again there in the light of our Christmas tree.

“A man shall leave his father and mother and be united with his wife.” (Mark 10:7)

Newlywed Love (#121)

November 25-26, 1970 – Thanksgiving Eve and Day

Nate and I finally figured out where we would sleep my parents, brother, and three aunties on the night before Thanksgiving. Agnes and Ruth would go in our bedroom, having hoped for a closed door. Helen would be comfortable on the living room couch.

TommyMom and Dad would cuddle up on the pull-down Murphy bed, and Tom would have the dining room floor.

Nate and I would be on the living room floor in front of the fireplace – a sleeping spot not unfamiliar to us. And the whole night promised to be unique!

After our cake and coffee at about 10:00 PM Wednesday evening, we took turns in the bathroom and then said our good-nights. Mom was so into the adventure of it all she couldn’t settle down, cracking jokes about her sleeping spot with Dad in the swoopy Murphy bed.

“Don’t look at what’s going on in this bed,” she said. “It’s x-rated.” Of course she was joking, and I could hear Dad trying to shush her so he could drift off to sleep.

Dad carvesSomehow we made it through the night and a nourishing scrambled egg breakfast before Mary, Bervin, little Luke, and doggie Russell arrived. Then Mom lent me her cooking expertise, and when everything was finally ready, Dad did the carving on the sink drain board. Despite having prepared the meal in a kitchen with only 18 inches of counter-space, our late afternoon Thanksgiving feast was a success.

After washing all the dishes assembly-line style, we “youngsters” played games on the floor while the “oldsters” nodded off.

Aunt Agnes snoozesDad snoozes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was peaceful… and perfect. And I was proud of Nate for setting aside his books completely throughout the day. They were on his mind, to be sure, pressing hard, but he never mentioned them.

Family photoMom wanted to take a family photo announcing their first grandchild in a Christmas card, so we assembled in front of the window. Our Danville friend Rick took the picture.

A family of five had begun to grow, and now we were eight. Mom wondered aloud how many might join the ranks in future years. “The more the merrier,” she said, meaning it with all her heart.

Around 10:00 PM our guests began getting their coats, which we’d known ahead of time had to happen. Even the Chicago group was committed back home the next morning.

Saying goodbyeNate and I stood at our apartment door waving them down the stairs, one group at a time, deeply thankful that the whole family had been together. Our time had been short — but memorable.

And with our parting words, we promised to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family every year from that day forward – no matter how big we grew.

“Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.” (Psalm 50:23)

Newlywed Love (#120)

November 19-23, 1970

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Nate and I hosted a party for our Sunday school class. We cleaned, grocery-shopped, put a party menu together, and readied for our first “big” company.

J.O.Y. party

I pulled out a couple of my wedding-gift cook books and told Nate I would make an attempt at some interesting recipes. Thankfully it wasn’t a dinner but just dessert.

After baking two cakes, one a “wine cake” and the other plain, I made a raspberry sauce to drizzle over the plain one. If it seemed strange, we could always smother it with whipping cream from the squirt-can.

Of course we bought chips, dips, soft drinks, and even a little wine, though we weren’t sure what Pastor Ralph would think of that.

As we prepared, John and Cathy seemed interested, so we invited them to join us, hoping they might one day attend our lively Sunday school class, too.

All 20 guests threw themselves into a game of charades, and laughs were plentiful. We continued till 1:00 AM – despite the next day being a Monday. John and Cathy were the last to leave, close to 2:00 AM.

Teaching was a challenge the next day after such a short night, because the children and I were preparing for an open house before the Thanksgiving break.

Tee pee exampleTo accompany our unit on American Indians, we were building a six-seater canoe… and a full-sized tee pee! I wondered what ever possessed me to agree to such extreme projects — probably the enthusiasm of some adorable 5-year-olds.

Arriving home to Nate’s loving welcome made everything better, though, and he suggested we nap together before dinner. Two hours later, the world looked brighter, and we were energized to make it through a long evening.

Nate went back to his books, and I wrote the November newsletter for my classroom parents. Many had said they appreciated the monthly communiqué about what their children were doing in school (below) and felt like they were part of the team. My real goal was to let them know how much I loved each of their kids.Parent letter

Open house went well, and the next day was our party send-off to the Thanksgiving weekend. Usually it made me sad not to see them for four days straight, but not this time. My mind was racing with Thanksgiving preparations.

That evening, our family would arrive for 24 hours, and there was much to do. A year earlier we’d eaten Thanksgiving dinner as unmarried singles two days from our wedding. This year we would be hosting as a couple – and it felt great.

 

The RidlensMom and Dad would be bringing brother Tom and three aunties. Mary, Bervin, and baby Luke would come the next morning. And we invited our Danville friends Rick and Barbara (left), who had no local family and no Thanksgiving plans.

Finding beds for our four older relatives would be a logical challenge, but we were glad they wanted to come at all. It would be a holiday to remember!

“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters [and families] get along!” (Psalm 133:1 The Message)