Friday, December 23, 2011

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Large families are difficult to miss. One vacation my mother lined us all up to take a picture, and other tourists stopped and took pictures as well. Inquiring minds would want to know, “Are all these kids yours?” Those who were not as strong in mathematics would ask, “How many of you are there?” When we would tell them, they’d say, “You could be your own baseball team!” We’d smile and nod even though we didn’t know how many people were needed for a baseball team. What we did know was that we had enough people to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Like many of our traditions, it began with Shakespeare Club. More specifically, it began with our Shakespeare Club’s Dickens Christmas Party. Junior high and high school students wearing an assortment of crushed velvet ball gowns, bonnets, top hats, and false side whiskers sat around our living room caroling. Dawn, the only adult I’ve ever known willing to organize a Dickens Christmas party for twenty-five teenagers, divided us into twelve groups to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas. One brave soul sang “A partridge in a pear tree” solo. “Two calling birds” was sung as a duet by an aspiring soprano who stood up and enthusiastically belted it out and a reserved young man who looked down and mumbled it uncomfortably under her warbling.

This performance became epic in our house. It didn’t take us long to begin to perform it ourselves during car rides. Starting with the oldest we’d each take a line and all sing “five golden rings” as loudly as we could. Every verse ended with Mom singing “two turtle doves” and Dad bringing it home with “a partridge in a pear tree.” Once in a while Mom would surprise us and pay tribute to that Dickens party by belting her line out in a shaky vibrato.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Beautiful Land of Life

"Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!" ~Albert Einstein

People often comment on my memory. I’ve been told that I have a mind like a steel trap. I usually smile, shrug and say “I never remember the important things.” But the truth is that I don’t have a mind like a steel trap. Just ask my boss Roy who has had to explain the codes on business property tax bills to me at least five times. If anything is a steel trap, it is my heart (my spirit, my psyche, if you will). Emotions stick with me for a long time.

For instance, when I pick up my shell-pink plastic mixing bowls, I remember driving to the post office, the new diamond on my left hand catching the sun, and picking up a package from my Aunt Mary Beth. I am so grateful for that feeling of receiving my first engagement gift – that representation of the new life that I am now living. And I wish Aunt Mary Beth knew how happy it made me and how happy I am now. But those are the kinds of things that are impossible to truly communicate.

So this is my attempt to express my gratitude to and for my family - those eleven strong, distinct personalities that have made me irreversibly who I am. This is my attempt to give homage to a journey that has traversed across states in a “Candy Apple Judge Bus” and a journey that has traversed on the Back of the North Wind to edges of the world.

I’ve always known I would write about my family. When something particularly unusual or funny would happen, my mom would say, “Put that in your book one day!” We even had a title for the book: A Waffle for Mama. It was inspired by the stacks and stacks of waffles my mom would cook every Saturday before finally sitting down to eat one. More recently, I’ve thought my sister Leah should write that book. She is smarter and much funnier than I am, but right now she is busy dissecting cats and observing zebras. In the meantime, I will begin the task with a blog.

There are twelve people in my family – ten kids, two parents. However, there were only two weeks that we all officially lived under the same roof. Those were the two weeks between my youngest sister being born and my leaving for college in Greenville, South Carolina. Now we ten kids live in six different cities. Not too bad for ten people, right? Three of us are employed full-time. Seven are full-time students. Judges love school. It was something pounded into us by news articles on uneducated people who had to work in chicken factories.

One good thing about scholars is that they are usually convenient to be with around the holidays. Only one of us couldn’t manage to get a week off for Christmas. And since Rebekah couldn’t be brought to the mountain, we are moving the mountain (aka Judges) to Rebekah. I can not wait to be all together. In the twinkle of Christmas lights and the folds of bows on evergreen wreaths I am reminded of the twenty-eight Christmases with which I’ve been blessed, and I am filled with anticipation for my next Christmas this weekend. I wish these kinds of happy memories for everyone.
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