Newlywed Love (#122)

November 27, 1970

Journal about breakfastAfter a happy Thanks- giving Day, Nate and I started our 1st anniversary celebration-weekend with a bang – by sleeping until 12:30. Then together we made a big breakfast and set the table with silver, crystal, and our wedding china. With candles burning, we sat opposite each other in the center of the fully-extended table (which we’d needed for Thanksgiving) and talked about our marriage.

It was fun reminiscing about our wedding day. We laughed hard remembering our wild get-away from the church with John at the wheel, Nate changing out of his tux in a ladies room, and our mad dash into O’Hare airport – and out again.

Holding hands.We recounted each of the four days we had at the Drake Hotel as honeymooners and then went through the year recalling highlights. As we held hands across the breakfast table, Nate prayed a beautiful prayer of gratitude for all that had happened during this first year, and dedicated our marriage to God for the duration.

After doing the dishes, we got dressed up fancy and headed to Lincoln Square, the local mall, to look at Christmas decorations and buy each other an anniversary gift.

Cookie jarAlthough we’d received anniversary checks from both sets of parents and also Bervin and Mary, generally our finances were still tight. So we settled on a low-budget gift that would benefit both of us: a cookie jar in the shape of a big orange. I promised to fill it later with Nate’s favorite – frosted sugar cookies.

(This was our second cookie jar, but we were using the first one for candy.)

Although our actual anniversary wouldn’t come till Sunday, we splurged with dinner out (pizza) and a movie, figuring it would be appropriate to spend some of our gift-money on celebrating.

Back at home we made a fire and talked about what kind of Christmas tree we’d get the next day – shopping for it together. We talked about the previous year when Nate had surprised me with a tree (below), and I had burst into tears.

First treeAt the time I couldn’t believe he’d “cut me out” of that family tradition, and he couldn’t believe I hadn’t appreciated what he’d done for me.

As we remembered back to our first clash, we were thankful to have reached our 1st anniversary without too many more of those painful misunderstandings.

The day ended amorously — in each other’s arms, feeling warm, secure, and very happy.

“There is a time… for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

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 (#117)

November 7-9, 1970

Nate and I were getting along great, so thankful to be married and living together.

Friends in VietnamOccasionally we’d watch the news coverage of Vietnam and grow agitated about Nate’s future with the military. Three friends overseas had actually sent us pictures, showing how radi- cally different their lives were from ours. Had Nate not joined ROTC, however, he would have been drafted and most likely located in Vietnam by now. Life in the reserves for the next few years would always be better than that.

A quick trip to the Chicago area reunited us with baby Luke as he approached his one month birthday, and also with our “baby” Baron – who wasn’t really ours anymore.

David, Baron, and Tom

When Mom broke her arm and had to wear a bulky cast for six weeks, Baron had taken up full-time residence with my brother’s friend David. Baron and David loved each other with abandon.

We still got to spend time with this special doggie, though, since Mom kindly invited him (and David) to many of our family gatherings.

 

Our two babiesBaron was keenly interested in baby Luke, and as always, he was a delight to watch. But we had fully accepted that our lives were too fluid to include a pet, especially one as time-intensive as a dog. With David, Baron now had a back yard where he could run, along with a dog-loving family that lavished attention on him. It was a good fit.

After seeing Baron and Luke, Nate and I also squeezed in a quick trip to spend 24 hours with his parents. Lois cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, since our Thanksgiving would be spent in Champaign with my side of the family.

She also gave me a wonderful gift during our visit. After watching her pull out a box of old photographs, I got my first look at Nate as a child. It was heart-warming when she said, “Would you like to take some of these home with you?”

Kindergartener

One photo completely charmed me. Little Nathan, as his family called him, was sitting on a trike at about kindergarten-age. It illustrated the get-up-and-go his parents frequently talked about in reference to his childhood.

His firm grip on the handlebars, his bright eyes and big smile, and his badly-skinned knee were indicative of a lively, determined little boy.

As soon as we got back to Champaign, I framed the photo for our bedroom wall. Looking at it brought me sweet pleasure, making me wonder if we’d ever have children of our own. And if we did, would they look like this little guy? I hoped so.

Meanwhile, I would have to be content exercising my love for children through 28 kindergarteners and baby Luke. But those opportunities were OK by me.

“Out of the mouths of babes… you [Lord] have ordained strength.” (Psalm 8:2)