Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 Hall Family Reunion

We had the 2008 Hall Family reunion last Saturday. It was held at the home of my Uncle Vic so that he could attend - he is in the final days of his battle with lung/brain cancer. He overcame well-meaning objections by the hospice nurse and his wife to have the reunion at his home, and he enjoyed telling us that "I finally got my way!" It was a bittersweet time, but we could laugh and enjoy our memories because we share the certain hope of the Resurrection.

Having 47 years of reunion history was a comforting framework to gather within. We know how to do this! We all gathered in one room and recounted the events of the previous year. We remembered my cousin Tonna, who died last spring, and heard updates from several families members battling cancer. We rejoiced over weddings and new babies, children and grandchildren going off to college and laughed together at how the "cousin's generation" is coping with advancing age. (We were teenagers just a minute ago! Who are all these people with gray hair and bifocals?????)

There is a side story that will be recorded in book for this reunion, and it involves my father's 'branch' of the family tree.

When the plan for this reunion was first announced by Vic's sons, it was to be located at Rick's house near Plymouth, Indiana, which is about 70 miles west of where we live. A few weeks later, Vic's doctor told him that he probably had less than 3 months left, and so Vic asked that the reunion be moved to his house. Aunt Thais was NOT in favor, but they managed to strike a bargain. (Vic agreed to have their picture taken for their church directory.) The location was moved, and announcements went out. Just a week later, at his final doctors appointment, it was clarified that "less than three months" probably meant something more like "two to three weeks." They had their first meeting with the hospice nurse later that day, and she was adamant that having a reunion at their house 3 weeks later was out of the question. (To be fair, she was not yet acquainted with 'Hall Determination.') The location was moved back to Plymouth.

The day before the reunion, my dad called and talked to Randy, who told him that they didn't really think Vic was up to the trip to Plymouth, but that he was determined to be at the reunion, and his sons were determined to do whatever it took to make that happen. They were waiting to talk to the hospice nurse to make a final decision. I guess when faced with the choice of having her patient travel 180 miles round trip to attend the reunion, or having 45 people gather around him at his home, she changed her mind, and so once again the location was moved. An email was sent out on the group list that had been active for the last few weeks, making sure that each branch of the family was notified.

For our branch, the only email they had was for my brother Tim. Which, it turns out, he only checks every 3 or 4 weeks, so he had no idea he was even getting these emails.

Saturday dawned, and we loaded up 5 cars with people and food (including 8 babies & toddlers!) and headed for Plymouth. It turned out that for the first time in many years, my parents, my three brothers and I were all attending AND we were all going to arrive on time and within about 10 minutes of each other. Tim got there first and discovered an empty house. Thanks to cell-phones, three of the cars turned back before going the last few miles.

It's true that we were initially not amused that no one had called to tell us the reunion had been moved again, and we'd made that long drive for naught. However, we also understood that given the situation, they had much bigger things to deal with and so we 'shook it off,' turned around, and drove to Vic's house. Of course, our older cousins hassled us for being late and not keeping up with email, and we hassled them for still trying to hide from us. (We were among the younger cousins, and the big kids didn't always want us little kids tagging along!) I'm sure we'll be going back and forth with this for some years to come.

In the end, we were all glad that we had a chance to gather together to say goodbye to Uncle Vic, to express our love and support to his family, to laugh together and remember our childhoods together. And to share those "2 cookers-full of beans."

*Note: While I was working on this post yesterday, my brother called to tell me that Vic had been called from this vale of tears to the glory of life eternal.

+ Amen, Lord Jesus, quickly come.+

The Book revisited...

Today I'm going to re-post something from 2 years ago, as a prelude to upcoming posts. This post explained how we do reunions on my dad's side of the family. It will serve as a lead in to several posts that I'm working on. It's important to me to spend time getting them written the way I want, so they aren't coming quickly, but this will be a good starting point.

The Book....
It was the summer of 1961 when my parents loaded my baby brother and me (not-yet-three!) into the car (without carseats or even seatbelts!) and drove the 150 miles to his parent's house. His grandmother (Gran) was staying there and so all of our aunts and uncles and cousins were coming to spend the weekend to see her.

While I don't remember the weekend, I can tell you a lot about it. My dad and his 5 brothers and 1 sister were all in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. All but one were married, and all of the married couples had kids except one - and their first was born a few months later. "The boys," as my dad and his brothers were collectively called, pulled several pranks on their dad and each other. When some of the pranks started "going off" in the middle of the night, my parents announced that anyone who woke me up would have to be the ones to get me back to sleep!! One of those pranks was my grandpa's clock radio set to full volume. When it came on, it happened to be playing "When the Saints Come Marching In." My grandpa thought he'd died! It was a great weekend!

I know all this because we have a book, you see. Sometime that weekend, probably over a meal that included Toler-Creek beans and watermelon, they decided that this "reunion" should be an annual event. It was determined that my uncle Wendall (the first-born, of course!) would be the first "president" and the office would rotate each year to the next youngest sibling. They got a ledger book, and wrote this down. On this certain weekend every summer, everyone would gather and the president would be responsible for organizing the details, supplying the meat for the meal and recording the events in the book. Attendance was written down (with my uncle Gary and his wife listed as 2 1/2, because Deanna wasn't born yet - but she was there!) and some of the more memorable events of the weekend (including my parents need for me to sleep!) were recorded. They pasted in a picture of Gran and a group picture of everyone there, and the book was begun. And so it has continued for 46 years.

Every year at the reunion, there is a "business meeting." Everyone sits around and the "president" reads the account of the previous reunion. Then each family recounts the highs and lows of the previous year. Who had a baby, who had surgery, who graduated. Some of the funny stories of our lives, and the sad ones too. Adjustments to the "rules" are discussed and voted on. I know at some point, I think after my grandpa died, the date was moved away from the weekend closest to his birthday. And I think it was after my grandma died that my aunts and uncles asked the assembled group if we still wanted to have an annual reunion. I think they were a little surprised by the resounding "yes," but they announced that it was time to "pass the torch" to the next generation, and so now the office of president passes from Wendall's children to Vic's and so on. Every six years, my brothers and I host the reunion. We set the date and provide the place and beverages, plan games - and update the book.

The book is just the greatest thing. 45 years of family history, stories and pictures all in one place. At the 40th reunion, it was decided that while the ledger book still had blank pages, the binding was loose and the pages were yellowing quickly, so my uncle carefully took it apart and put each page in an archival quality sleeve. Now it is a large album, and new entries are still added each year.

And it says right there in the book, the current summary of rules...."It is the president's responsibility to be sure there are at least 2 cookers-full of beans......."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lead me not into temptation

Oh my! I am greatly enjoying listening to 'Issues, Etc.' Beyond the enriching focus on the Gospel, I'm just sure I get smarter all the time! I find when I read or listen to speeches and newstories from other sources, I am more critical. As in noticing "Hmm, that seems like an assumption. I'd like to know the source of that statement." "I don't accept the premise that argument is based on." Things like that. I think it's a good thing.

HOWEVER, the temptation is terrible!

I already REALLY wanted an iPod. I'm a Mac convert plus it's really cool! Having a phone and iPod in one! (Not to mention all the other stuff.) I've been delaying buying a new iPod (mine is pre-video) until I can make the switch. I was already struggling with the wait (the contract with my current carrier doesn't expire until January 2009.)

Then I started hearing ads in IE, telling me that I could listen LIVE on an iPhone. (Which I can't do otherwise because I'm driving home from work, not in the St. Louis area.) This was all distracting enough for me, and then I heard that iTunes has worked out their differences with NBC, so now I can download episodes of "The Office" to a video iPod or iPhone.

I confess, I called my carrier to find out the amount of the contract buy-out. But I'm an adult now, and there's just no way to justify that much money for something that is truly a 'want,' not a 'need.'


Monday, August 25, 2008

Coming back out to play.....

The oldest email currently in my inbox is from New Years Day. It's a question from Orycteropus Afer, refering to my long blog silence, and asking if I was ready to come back out and play. I kept it in my inbox, and looked at it everytime I did a clean-out, but as much as I appreciated his encouragement....I guess I just wasn't ready.

I think I might be getting there tho.

I remember my younger self as being a very social person - I enjoyed having a full calendar and spending a lot of time with family and friends, cooking and entertaining, very active in church and choir activities. And then I went through several bouts of depression. Not completely debilitating, but I was very much affected. One of the first signs that I remember noticing but not paying attention to was when I began clearing my evening schedules so that I could stay home alone more often. When I cleared Wed evenings by no longer singing in the choir, something I loved for over 35 years, I should have realized that something was not right.

The biggest change, and most lasting effect is that I have become very much an introvert. It's often a real challenge to balance "people time" (which I need and want) and "alone time" which I also need and want. Over the last year or so, I often struggled to find that "quiet in my mind" time. There were often many demands on my time and attention, and plenty of stressful issues. Some days it seemed like the only "communication" I could "opt out of" was blogging....and so I did. I have another blog - a team knitting blog with one of my dear friends. That blog has also suffered neglect over the past year, but it was a bit easier to post an update on a knitting project, so I did keep up a little better.
In the past few months, I've noticed that it's less of a struggle to keep my balance. In fact (shhhhh, don't tell) I've actually enjoyed a higher level of social activity! I have become more active in my congregation, and my busier calendar hasn't sent me running for "my chair" at every free moment. And I'm kind of thinking of blogging again!

My first step was to begin posting regularly and frequently on my knitting blog. It was a good place to start - my goal has been daily short posts, even if it's just a picture and a paragraph. Kind of a stretching warm up. Now I'm starting to feel like doing a little stretching on this blog. Over the time that I've blogged here, one of the things I used this space for is to share and record childhood and family memories. I've always enjoyed learning about my family's history, and doing what I can to make our stories live on for future generations.

Of course, I haven't stopped having things to say about other things (Welcome Back Issues Etc!) but for my stretching exercises I have several family history posts percolating in my mind. That's where I hope to begin.
So. Play! What a cool idea! Thanks Orycteropus Afer, for thinking of me. Sorry it took so long....

Friday, May 18, 2007

It just never gets old!!

For the 11th time - I'm an aunt!!

See?? She's got my yawn!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"So write a post," she instructed. "and make it Lutheran. You have until Friday."

Alright then. Far be it from me to argue with The Rebellious Pastor's Wife when she decides to host a Carnival!

(Whiny voice) I've just not been in a very "posty" mood lately. You know, with short days and cold and snow and blah blah blah....I'm sure none of this will be accepted as any sort of excuse.

There has been something on my mind tho, and at the core it's very Lutheran.

The Lutheran Logomaniac first introduced me to the concept of blogs and blogging, and encouraged me to start a blog. While he was enthusiastically pointing out his favorite Confessional Lutheran blogs, a little covert googling opened the world of KNITTING Blogs to me! My first blog was a knitting blog, and I currently have a team blog that focuses on knitting.

At some point in my knitting blog life, I was encouraged to submit my blog to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© I remember saying, "But it's about knitting, not theology." I was told that it's not about always talking theology, but that in living (and posting) out our vocations, we are Lutheran. That's the point of the Lutheran Blogosphere. I was skeptical, and I've never submitted my knitting blog, Pickin' and Throwin' to the Blogroll.

I repent.

My blog partner Yarnthrower (also Lutheran) and I often comment that so many of our favorite knitting blogs eventually turn us off by straying from talk of wool and stitch patterns, of new designers and patterns and yarn-stashes-that-threaten-to-take-over-the-house, and start talking about karmic rebalancing or the guy they're living with or how much they hate the patriarchy or how they joined Knitters Who Hate Bush or something like that. Just yesterday, I was listening to a newly discovered knitting podcast, and the host thanked her boyfriend for his encouragement. Then she said, "He hates when I call him my boyfriend. But what do you call a great guy that you've lived with for 15 years and who has...." I muttered, "Husband" and hit the delete key. (Yes, I talk to my electronics.)

Who you are and what you believe is going to show through, whether you're talking about theology, politics, your job, your family.....or your knitting! And it should. It makes no sense to WANT people to see that I'm a Christian except for when I'm knitting. It's not that I don't want to read a good knitting story by someone who doesn't share my beliefs and values, my "worldview." But there should be good blogs to read by people who knit during Bible Class, who knit sweaters for their husbands or wives, (yes! I know some guys who knit for their wives!) Knitters who may disagree with a President's politics or even with the man himself, yet still respect his office and at the very least don't hate him and profess to wish him dead.

Basically, a Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© for Knitters.

When I started this blog, I said, "This is the blog where the gloves are off (and the gloves may be baseball gloves, you can never tell!) I am a Confessional Lutheran woman, (I almost said “lay-woman”, but that’s redundant for a Confessional Lutheran!) I work with “Higher Things: Dare to Be Lutheran,” I listen to pod-casts of “Issues Etc,” and I am a rabid St. Louis Cardinals Fan. That’s just the short list of what may appear on this blog!! I’m hoping that sometimes there can be conversations that will help me at least be able to articulate and defend my beliefs more clearly. And sometimes just have fun! Of course, all of this doesn't mean that I'm GOING to spend a lot of time discussing these things, just that it's possible."
That is still what this blog is about.

Because I dislike it when a knitting blogger posts about liberal politics or feminism or whatever, I believe that if I am going to say I have a knitting blog, that isn't the place for me to expound on Real Presence or the abomination known as "The Designated Hitter Rule." However, I would like to have a blogroll on the side of Pickin' and Throwin' which lists blogs of like-minded knitters.
There's already a good start - The Rebellious Pastor's Wife knits, Favorite Apron and Homestead Lutheran Academy both knit, I'm sure there are more!

So here's a shout out - if you're a knitter or know a knitter or want to know a knitter....and if they blog, or you can encourage them to blog...or hey! Encourage a blogger to knit! Let's extend the excellence of Lutheran Blogging to the knitting world!
Email me or leave a comment, and we'll get 'rolling!'

And feel free to stop on over to Pickin' and Throwin.....hey, I've already told the story of how I knitted a cow sling. You never know what farm animal I'll be knitting for next!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm all snowed in!

But no matter - tomorrow is the big day. FINALLY!

STL Cardinals Pitchers and Catcher report!

Ah..... Spring Training - the promise of the season to come...

Go Cards!