Lord, thank You for my big brother. Not only is he older than I am (yay!) but he fashioned walnut wood from his acres into a lovely bowl for me. At one point, it was filled with yummy chocolate. But OMG, both You and he knew that wouldn’t last long. …
Tag Archives: Siblings
Weird Things for Which I Was Thankful — Even in 2020
(In this edited version of my newspaper column, I recall a Thanksgiving when COVID ran rampant.)
Have your children or grandchildren watched “Sesame Street’s” Oscar the Grouch? I worried, lest my offspring adopt him as their patron saint.
Fast-forward to 2020. Thankfully, my children don’t live in trash cans. Nor is Oscar their role model.
I, on the other hand, sound more like Oscar every day. So, this Thanksgiving, I choose to be grateful, even for weird things.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the following:
- I don’t have to mask when I talk with You.
- Because of COVID-19, I rarely try on clothes in stores. No multiple mirrors!
- Squirrels playing nut-soccer on our roof don’t weigh 400 pounds.
- Delivery drivers bring life’s necessities — like apple cinnamon air freshener and SunChips® — to our doors.
- Potholders that aid in taking golden turkeys from the oven have not, unlike everything else, gone digital. I haven’t had to recharge one yet.
- Not all gas pumps show videos.
I also thank You that my husband has never, ever refused to open a pickle jar.
- We use clean water I didn’t haul a mile.
- Though some idiots — er, futurists — drool over human interfacing with technology, my Internet still has an off button.
- Leaves filling my yard are not poison ivy.
- I rarely worry about charging hippopotamuses.
Thank You, too, God, for pie. Any kind but mince.
- Also for the fact no one has written or performed “Medicare Supplements: the Musical.”
- For the color periwinkle.
- For the rustle and fragrance of a real book that keeps me up late.
- For phone calls from Little Brother. When I was a teen with a boyfriend, and he a brat with mirrors, I wished him 2,000 miles away. Eventually, my wish came true. Now, I cherish the bittersweet joy of hearing his voice.
Finally, Lord, I’m thankful for my two-year-old grandson who sings in the night.
You hear that, Oscar? Probably not, as you have clapped your trash can lid on tight.
Stay there, if you want. But if you change your mind, gratitude’s an excellent antidote for grouchiness.
Even for you, Oscar.
Even for me, this Thanksgiving of 2020.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: For which aspects of COVID’s wane are you thankful?
Hey, Hey, Hayride!
My first hayride at age nine in a creaky farm wagon — a 4-H outing — puzzled me. A novelty? No. Tractors prowled in fields surrounding our little Indiana town. My siblings and I rode in the back of a pickup at highway speeds, so burning up country roads at 15 mph didn’t shake me up.
Waving at farmers? Fun, but not extreme entertainment.
So, why did chaperones’ heads swivel as we chugged along? Just because they were responsible for children who had danced around a campfire, waving unfurled metal clothes hangers armed with burning marshmallows. Just because we’d consumed 10 s’mores apiece, why eyeball us like tractor hijackers?
By junior high, though, I’d figured out that mass sugar buzz didn’t cause the adults’ angst. Even clothes-hanger-marshmallow weapons appeared less threatening. The big concern: harvest moons, starry nights and chilly temperatures invited major snuggling.
Chaperones blackmailed into volunteering wished they’d signed up to dig the school’s new basement instead. But they yelled, “Heads up!” and bravely dug seventh grade babes and their current Numero Unos — generally six inches shorter — out of the hay.
Meanwhile, skinny nerds like me took extreme interest in local soybean crops.
Those popular kids were stupid. Embarrassing.
By high school, few stared at soybean fields, and no one waved at farmers. Our choir performed a wholesome, cheesy song at fall concerts — “Hey, hey, hayride!” Privately, we chuckled. Dumb old people would believe we were equally wholesome.
The old people — aka our parents — didn’t buy it. Later, when our own children reached adolescence, we didn’t, either. Surprisingly, though, hayrides no longer seemed popular.
However, recent years have brought a hayride resurgence. Given helicopter parents and predatory lawyers, are wagons now equipped with car seats and airbags? Or is everyone swathed in Bubble Wrap?
Yet, hayrides have evolved to scary, elaborate levels we 4-Hers couldn’t have imagined. For example, a Maryland “family” attraction offers haunted hayrides in which zombies assail the wagon, even crawl aboard. Also provided: refreshments, bonfires, live bands, plus a haunted hotel, haunted corn maze, and a haunted circus.
Give me the boring version, with only a full moon, crisp fall air, and burning up country roads at 15 mph.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever gone on a hayride?
The Day I Faced Facebook
Scrolling through Facebook, I read family and friends’ posts. Accept friend requests. Delete one from someone who addresses me as “Warm Infant.” Perhaps the correct translation is “hot babe”?
Fourteen years after surrendering to Facebook, I sometimes wonder why.
When MySpace and Facebook first invaded our world, I imagined techno-geeks had invented one more way I could crash my computer.
I asked my children, “What is this ‘My Face’?”
I should have known better. They’d let their mother think an MP3 was a World War II jet. Why did I think they’d explain social media?
Through the Moms’ Grapevine, I learned my grown children communicated with each other on Facebook. What?! When we lived in the same house for 25 years, I sometimes had to pay siblings to talk to each other.
What were they talking about now?
I learned they were displaying cute pictures of my grandchildren on Facebook.
I leaped into the 21st century … and accidentally signed up for Space Bookies.
Eventually, though, I became a Facebook member and read my daughter’s post: “When my mom joins Facebook, the world will end.”
My children had felt so safe. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!
And they’d had no idea their mother was a warm infant.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your social media story?
Groans. Heartrending moans.
My younger sister Jean, tossing and turning next to me in our double bed, was suffering yet another earache.
In the spirit of teen sibling compassion, I covered my head with my pillow.
“Go get an aspirin,” I mumbled. “Mom and Dad’s top dresser drawer.”
She stumbled toward the hall and my parents’ bedroom; I turned over with a sigh of relief. No longer my problem.
A bloodcurdling scream resurrected me.
Before I opened my eyes, I found myself pounding after her. I crashed into an unknown human form and lay flat on my back, panting in the dim hallway. Would I, too, now die at the hands of a hatchet murderer?
“Are you all right, honey? Where’s Jean?”
My unknown assailant didn’t sound like a bloodthirsty assassin.
“Mom?” I rubbed my eyes and tried to sit up. “Mom, is that you?”
I realized she, too, had hit the deck.
Meanwhile, Jean still screamed at the top of her lungs.
“I think she’s in your room,” I said. “Looking for an aspirin. Earache.”
“I must have run right past her.” Mom dragged herself to her feet and headed for her little girl.
Later, we learned that Dad, half-asleep, had detected Jean’s fumbling through their dresser drawers. Drowsy and confused, he bravely attacked the burglar who dared invade his home: he fired his pillow at her.
Another tall shadow lurked in the hallway. This one brandished a large club. My heart nearly shot through the top of my head, until I recognized his silhouette.
“Ned,” I said to my elder brother, who crouched in the bathroom doorway, clutching his baseball bat, “it’s okay. Jean’s just got an earache.”
“Why did she scream bloody murder? You’d think she was dying.” He sounded as if Jean had personally invaded his dreams of Marilyn Monroe.
I shrugged tiredly and headed for bed. Eventually Jean returned, sniffling, and my mother soothed her back to sleep. Even though the house now slumbered to the quiet hum of insomniac crickets through the screened windows, I couldn’t close my eyes. My head pounded where Mom and I had collided like a couple of dump trucks.
Maybe I needed an aspirin.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When you were a kid, was aspirin your family’s go-to remedy?
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: I’ve Missed You, You Turkey
O Lord, once upon a time, we were Bossy Big Sister and Ornery Baby Brother. You know perfectly well that hasn’t changed completely. But now, reunited after several years, OMG, thank You we can share a big hug.
Stay Outa My Space!
Do you, like most Americans, value personal space?
Because my large family was stuffed into small houses, I developed an early yen for breathing room. If a genie had offered me wishes, I would have wished three younger siblings elsewhere.
But when I rubbed living room lamps, the genie never showed. So, I competed for the bathroom, the best car window, phone privacy, and a quiet place to read.
Recently, our pastor reminded me of those futile cravings. Using a room and duct tape, he illustrated how we compartmentalize our lives, attempting to bar God from areas we want to control.
My husband’s righteous elbow jabbed me.
He knew that as a child, I’d done exactly that — though I used The String, not duct tape. Another difference: I wanted to live close to God. I didn’t want to share a bedroom with my sister.
A pack rat, she never made our double bed. Her kitten never messed on her pillow. Only mine.
With that almighty String, I divided our bed and our room. “You and Kitty stay on your side,” I decreed, “and I’ll stay on mine. If we touch each other’s side, we pay fifty cents.”
She stared. “But you have the door.”
“And you’re standing in it. Fifty cents, please.”
Our parents spoiled my privacy plan. They showed zero respect for budding capitalism. How could they destroy such a profitable enterprise?
Little did I know I someday would share dormitory rooms with aliens. A fellow introvert, also smothered by a 30,000-student campus, wallpapered the inside of an appliance box. Whenever excessive togetherness made her crazy, she retreated into The Box.
A similar box wouldn’t have worked for me as a young parent. First, I always flunk do-it-yourself projects. Second, three small children — two probably fragrant with needed diaper changes — would have crawled inside with me.
Hubby and I had stuffed our family into a tiny house. When I began consuming whole packages of Oreos, he realized something my parents didn’t get: I truly needed space.
Terribly North American. In some countries, whole families could have resided in our little home’s closet space.
But we moved to a larger house. My Oreo-snarfing behavior — rather than my children — disappeared. Of course, a parent never possesses sufficient personal space. Amid slumber parties, snow days, and laser tag battles, I didn’t realize my personal space would expand beyond belief.
The pandemic provided more distance for us North Americans than we’d ever dreamed of. The pastor preached his duct tape message to a socially distanced, masked congregation.
For months, my siblings and I couldn’t visit. Now, with loosening restrictions, we will. There will be no Strings or Boxes at my house.
Unless they try to move in.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you crave space?
OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Sisters
Oh, my God, thank You that, um, several decades ago, You sent me my sister. Years later, and miles apart, I’m still thankful for her. But she will always be three years younger than I. OMG, is that fair?
If you’re reading this, you woke up today.
If you’re reading this, but didn’t wake up, please contact me immediately. I’d like to ghostwrite your best seller.
Waking up has changed since our childhood years. Do you remember when you and Teddy jumped on your parents’ bed to help them celebrate morning?
Later, Mom wreaked vengeance by dragging us out of bed for school, scrubbing our ears and necks before we escaped her clutches.
People have been awakening us ever since.
At college, I assumed I would decree my wake-up time. My dorm, however, housed 500 girls, all armed with high-voltage stereos and supersonic hairdryers. Exercise classes met outside my room — at 1 a.m.
Those years prepared me for apartment life.
“Someday, I’ll own my own house,” I said. “No more party animals. No more percussion teachers upstairs.”
My husband and I did buy a house — and filled it with babies, aka, screaming meanies allergic to sleep. Especially ours.
Not content with that, Hubby delivered babies — and took care of sick people. I frequently awoke to discussions of blood sugar readings and stool reports. And advice on how to kick insomnia.
Occasionally, I slept through his wee-hour departures. His returns? Not so much. Most sleepers might awaken if a shadowy guy joined them in bed at 2 a.m. — particularly if his body temperature equaled an arctic seal’s. If he was tall, thin, and bearded, though, I turned over and dozed off. If short, fat, and/or clean-shaven — Houston, we had a problem.
While Hubby cannot claim my levels of martyrdom, he occasionally lets me awaken him for less compelling reasons, e.g., suspicious sounds in the laundry room at 4:30 a.m. I demanded he defend our dirty socks with his life.
One night, in a hotel room, I awoke, convinced Communists were monitoring us through the sprinkling system.
He also insists my snoring awakens him, but he’s upping my stats so his don’t look bad.
However, neither of us will ever achieve my brother’s dastardly wake-up call. During a solo visit, he had buttered me up with a wonderful meal, fascinating tales of his Middle Eastern service, and (!) chocolates. Such behavior should have roused deepest suspicions. Instead, I thought he finally had grown up.
That night, I savored dreamless sleep — until the enormous clock in my room lit up like a carnival ride. An Arab voice belted out a call to prayer that probably awakened Atlanta.
I thought Judgment Day had arrived.
Eventually, I realized it had not yet come for me. But Judgment Day came for him.
Little Brother, if you’re reading this, my offer to ghostwrite your best seller still stands.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What is your least favorite way to wake up?