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 (#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)