Friday, June 1, 2018

Knitting Family Ties

My sister-in-law Goldie and her family
 How quickly things change. We just celebrated the 90th birthday of my sister-in-law, Goldie Smeltz. What fun to get reacquainted with nieces and nephews, their children and new spouses from near and far. Now Goldie is in rehab, recuperating from a fall and hip surgery.

I am the youngest of five. And the only one left. I was born “way on behind” as they say in Pennsylvania Dutch. My siblings ranged from eight to 15 years older. At Christmastime, the baby of
Ruth, Marie, Russell, Robert with me on my dad's lap.
the family got gifts from everyone!

I once discovered a tissue-wrapped package in my sister Ruth’s room. I could read the letters on the box—x-y-l-o-p-h-o-n-e—but didn’t know what they spelled. But I could read the name on the tag and couldn’t wait to open my gift. Played that instrument till its glass tubes broke.

Robert, Goldie's husband, was over six feet tall. He swung me up till my head touched the kitchen ceiling and I giggled and squiggled out of his reach. He was also the speedy one. He once rounded the curve going into Herndon, hit ice and landed four wheels on the floor of the roller rink.

Actually, it was Russell who was called “Speedy,” although he never would tell me why. He was the farmer. His hair had a tinge of red, and when he grew a beard for a local bicentennial, his whiskers grew in red. So spiffy.

Ruth and Marie looked gorgeous as they dressed for dates, and in those days—you dressed! Taffetas and heels. Our washbowl was at the back of our kitchen, so I watched them comb out their pin curls, smooth their pompadours and powder their noses. Marie was an artist, and we sat on our bed, her with her drawing board and me copying her drawings on my tablet.

Goldie's children: Craig, Lisa, Janet, Linda, Judy, Todd
Once my siblings married, they all visited our farm on Sunday afternoons. Winters, we cut ice from the creek to make homemade ice cream, topped with my mother’s homegrown frozen strawberries. Summers, they sat on the porch and chatted while their kids explored the attic and barn. In time, my kids joined them. We worried they would hurt themselves, climbing into hay mows, etc., but they all survived.

Family is precious. And through the years, I’ve done all I could to maintain contact with my siblings’ families.

Fifty years ago Bill and I began hosting summer picnics for our clans. We provided the meat and everyone else brought a covered dish. When the numbers of guests climbed into the 30s and the set up and clean up got to be too much, we rented a facility. When I could no longer provide the main dish for the group, we purchased the meat. And we eventually asked the younger generation to take over everything. The picnics continue to this day--on both sides of our family.

Once we got older, since my siblings weren’t much into visiting, I hosted annual dinners at my house for my siblings and spouses.

At Christmastime, I mail cards to each family unit. And I receive cards from most, if not all. We keep
Goldie with Grand/Great Grandkids
up on Facebook too.

Maintaining family contact is important. The world may be against me, but my family loves and supports me, no matter what. We stand by each other’s bedsides during illnesses. We cheer each other on through challenges. And we’re there for each other through personal setbacks.

Yes, it takes deliberate planning and some hard work, especially if knots appear in family ties. But it’s well worth the effort.

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 – NIV)

Loving one another begins at home. Thank God for your family, and reach out and touch a family member today. Look for an excuse to plan a family get-together. You’ll be blessed.

Scroll down and click on the link below to leave a comment about what you do to knit family ties.



Upcoming Friends of the Heart Engagements:

June 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – With Wenksville United Methodist Church, Biglerville, for Women’s Retreat, “What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.”

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