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 (#112)

Eating Mandarin orangesTomorrow we’ll be starting our holiday celebrating a week early by taking a trip to Iowa to visit Birgitta, Emerald, and Spencer.

We’ll also be spending time with Nate’s brother Ken (below).

After that we’ll get to have Emerald with us for a week in Michigan, and before we make our turkey dinner, she and I will be busy catching up on granddaughter adventures.

Uncle Ken.So, the 1970 Newlywed year of Nate and Meg will have to conclude after the Thanksgiving weekend — about 10 days from now. But before I sign off for a while, let’s watch these two meet the first baby in the family….




Super 8 moviesOctober 24-28, 1970

After our apartment research project in Chicago, Nate and I made a bee-line for my family – and especially baby Luke, now 9 days old. We brought our Super 8 movie camera to record his every move and couldn’t wait to get our hands on him.

Actually, it was mostly me eager for that, since Nate was unfamiliar with babies. I don’t believe he’d ever held a baby, nor was he a natural with children. He worried about hurting little Luke if he held him, and I assured him babies were more durable than that.

When we finally got together with this little one, it was every bit as thrilling as I’d anticipated. A new baby! Right here in our family! I couldn’t think of any greater blessing. He looked just like his daddy, which was appropriate, since they shared a middle name: Charles.

Baby LukeI coaxed Nate to hold him, which he did reluctantly, but Luke performed perfectly. The evening flew by with our family baby becoming an even bigger hit than Mary’s delicious apple pie.

I loved watching Mary handle Luke. She seemed to glow with a special happiness I hadn’t seen in her before.

As Nate and I got in the car to head toward Mom and Dad’s for an overnight, I expounded on the good movies I’d gotten — an entire reel.

The next day was Luke’s debut at Moody Church, and we watched from the sidelines as he and his parents were swarmed by well-wishers. During our family lunch at a restaurant, it was my turn to hold him as he slept and admire his flawless skin — and oh that sweet baby scent. When it came time for us to say goodbye, our departure was difficult – until the whole group promised to come to Champaign for Thanksgiving. That made it easier.

Rolling creme centersOnce we were home, Nate returned to his grueling studies, and I went over to Cathy’s house to begin making Christmas candy. Our goal was to mix 6 batches of different crème fillings and then leave them to chill in preparation for dipping on another day. And we did it!

Much later, as Nate and I were readying for bed, I asked if he could drop off the movie film at the camera shop the next day. Longing to see and touch Luke again, I knew watching the movie would help.

When I opened the camera, though, I was stunned to see we’d shot 50 feet of pictures without any film! “I feel like I’ve just been robbed!” I said.

“Well,” Nate said, “at least you still have the movie that’s inside your head.” Though he was trying to encourage me, as always, I could have kicked myself for such an “expensive” oversight.

“Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Newlywed Love (#111)

October 23-25, 1970

Nate’s lengthy Estate Planning memo was due on October 23 – a thick document he’d worked on from mid-summer till now. He was deep into several other classes, too, and had been pouring on the power night and day. On the 23rd when I left for school, he was proofreading one last time.

As I was about to dismiss my morning kindergarteners, he appeared at our classroom door sporting a wide grin. I knew that meant the paper was done, and ran to give him a big hug… while the children giggled at us.

“I came to take you out to a celebration lunch,” he said. It was a moment of triumph, and I was delighted he had wanted to drive 40 miles to spend it with me. When lunch was over, it was difficult to say goodbye, but duty called. And Nate had to get back to his books.

Estate planningHopefully he would graduate in January after one last batch of exams. Both of us were keyed up about the end finally being in sight. Focusing for so long on his Estate Planning paper, though, had done something special for him – peaked his interest in that field. He talked about looking for his first job at one of the many Chicago banks, in a trust department.

I got goose bumps thinking of moving back to the Chicago area, and as we talked further, the goose bumps only grew. That’s because Nate said he wanted to look at a few apartments the next time we drove through the city. I couldn’t believe it! That would be the following day, when we went north to meet Baby Luke.

As I grabbed him to dance around the room, he said, “It’s too early to commit to anything. This will be strictly for research purposes. We need to find out what Chicago apartments cost and figure out how much is too much.”

Hancock CenterNot the least bit discouraged I said, “Let’s look at the 100-story John Hancock Center,” a nearly-new building purported to be the second tallest in the world. I’d heard it was one-third offices, one-third apartments, and one-third parking. And right on Lake Michigan’s beautiful shore!

After entertaining six friends on Friday evening, we got up early Saturday and headed for Chicago – and the John Hancock Center. It was a rude awakening to find out the only way to live there was to buy your apartment, and the prices were exorbitant!

We traveled north along Sheridan Road, stopping at several more buildings, all on Lake Michigan. Our research showed us that we wouldn’t be able to afford a high-rise or lakefront apartment at all but would have to settle for something “lower” (in terms of floors) and “farther” (away from the lake).

And there was one other factor, something that might have powerful sway over where we lived after graduation: The Army.

The ArmyWe knew at a minimum Nate would have to go on active duty for the summer, but depending on what I would be doing, we hoped we could still live together – whether in Chicago or at one of the many military posts across the land.

But only time would tell.

“My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:15)