Friday, January 4, 2019

More Than Seven Around the Dinner Table

Recently I asked my mom when was the last time Murray and I and all our kids visited her for Christmas. She said 2010, then she told me it was 1975 since all her kids had been home for Christmas.

I want to grab on to every memory I can.

Sometimes when I’m busy working, and Murray wants to talk to me, I’ve found myself snapping, “I want to get this done.” I’ve taken a few deep breaths while the kids are home, reminding myself that nothing is so crucial for me to do, and I need to take advantage of the time with them.

Ping-Hwei was with us every day, and for a few days, it was just him, Murray and me. That felt strange but Murray said it reminds us of how our future may be.

That’s okay; Ping-Hwei is always fun, and he enjoys the new people others have brought into our home.

All seven of us were home this holiday season, but not at the same time. I described it as a lot of in and out, because of work schedules and because our kids needed to spend time with the people they love and their families as well.

We enjoyed having small children around the house again. Jessica came with Benjamin for Thanksgiving and brought her youngest son Soren, who is close to two.

Holly and Caleb both have dog guides. Soren followed them around saying, “Dog-dog, dog-dog.”

We kept Soren one evening so Benjamin and Jessica could go out, and Soren and I fell asleep together in my armchair. Murray took a picture and posted it on Facebook with the tag, “Kathy loves babysitting.”

Benjamin and Jessica were with us again on Christmas Eve-eve, and she brought her oldest son J.J., who is four.

It is fun buying gifts for kids. We gave J.J. a couple gifts to share with Soren. One was a package of bouncy balls which light up when they’re moved. I wrapped it up in thick wrapping paper, but as I handed it to J.J., he said, “Oh, it lights!”

I haven’t been able to see much light for several years now. But hearing J.J. say that was more fun than if I could have seem them light up myself.

J.J. is a happy, lively boy. He found my two large stuffed animals sitting snugly side by side on my desk chair—Barny the elephant and Gus the monkey. He brought them to show Jessica. The next morning I found he’d put them back on my chair, Barny holding Gus on his lap.

Rebecca and Sarah were home in time to have dinner with us on Christmas Eve-eve. Benjamin kept saying he couldn’t have foods of different temperatures touching on his plate. Rebecca said, “I don’t really think this is a thing with you.” She and Sarah reminded him of foods that must be different temps but still touch, like hot fudge and ice cream and warm bread and cold butter.

Benjamin and I drew each other’s names for gifts this year. He told me, “Your gift is a thumb drive.”

He recorded himself playing a couple songs on the piano and promised to give me more throughout the year. I am so happy. I’ve missed listening to him play the piano.

Steve wasn’t here with us during the holidays yet, but I could hear Rebecca smiling as she said, “I think Steve likes me.” I think so too. He went to feed her cat, Millie, and sent Rebecca a message with Millie purring loudly. “It made me smile,” she said.

Rebecca and I went shopping on Christmas Eve. Such a delight, especially since she told me she probably won’t come home next year for Christmas. Since she just became editor of her newspaper, she said she’ll need to take turns with people taking off at Christmas.

Rebecca lives in a small city in a very rural area of Iowa. As we were driving in the city she said, “I miss being around people who aren’t white.”

Caleb and Holly were here for Thanksgiving, but they went to visit Holly’s family in Missouri for Christmas. Caleb called me often, though. Once I got to hear one of the family dogs speaking quite vocally. Another time Caleb walked his dog Hammy outside, and I heard the goats bleating. What a fun gift!

Sarah is home from her first semester in grad school. I tell her I know she doesn’t live here anymore, and that’s okay, but it’s sure nice to have her for a few weeks. At church, Sarah hushed me as I sang when no one else sang, or talked when others sang. She grabbed my hand and stilled it as I clapped on the seat in front of us to the beat of the song. At Lunch she said, “I can’t take you anywhere.” Being with her like this felt like coming home.

I was reminded of something recently that I’ve only heard my kids say a few times. When there’s a problem that nothing seems to fix, they asked, “Isn’t there anything you can do?” And when the answer is no, it squeezes a parent’s heart.

Now that they’re grown and moving away from me, even for those who live in the same house, there is so much less that I can do for the hard things in their lives. So I will pray they learn more every day how much God loves them. That he covets a close relationship with them, to support them through everything they meet in life.


  1. So heartwarming. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Reading how your children are now adults and have their own lives reminds me of a book I read about the rythmns of life and how there are seasons or rythmns in life. Thank you for pointing out the small, fun pleasures of life like a child being delighted about a toy that lights up.

  3. Kathy,
    Excellent detail. Loved the glimpse into your life, and wow, how the kids are grown up but still close to you in lots of ways. A wonderful post!