9:42 p.m.

Well, Jill headed home to Oklahoma today and the house is quiet once again. But that’s not such a bad thing. Janet and I got our chores done around the house after they left and then took Lexie for a run this morning. It’s a little like culture shock. After you have been in the midst of family; and running around for the past 10 days, it gives us a few days to recover before we celebrate Thanksgiving and are once again overrun by members of the family – this time by those who live here locally.

Sometimes I get a little reflective the week before the official holiday season begins. I think about all the changes that have occurred in the family throughout the years. Way back in the old days, Janet’s grandparents and my parents were still alive to celebrate with us. Dad has been gone since ’78 so it’s been a long time since I’ve had Thanksgiving with him. And it’s 14 years since my mother has been around for the holidays. The years are spinning by since since Janet’s grandparents passed away as well.

At the other end of the spectrum we now have grandchildren of our own and there is no time like the holidays to remind you about the circle of life. While it’s great to see the young ones come up, the traditions seem to change with the generations as well. With the continuing proliferation of electronic games and computers, the art of conversation is becoming a thing of the past. Kids are always deep in their e-games and the time of sitting in front of the TV as a family and watching one of the holiday classics is almost unheard of today.

That’s not what I wish for our kids and grandchildren. I wish they would realize the importance of family and how someday those relationships won’t be there to take for granted. To put a point on the subject, Kristin has also gone through her painful divorce this year and her three boys will, for the first time, divide their time between parents who are no longer together – and it’s a shame… when Janet and I grew up, neither one of us grew up in blended families. It’s just the way it was back in those days. So this will be new to us as well this season.

But with all the changes I remember the one constant in my life. Through all the years of marriage that Janet and I had under our belts, my mother called me every Sunday evening at 9:42 p.m. Now I know this sounds goofy. And I swear that she didn’t watch the clock and wait for that specific time. But without fail, every single week, I came to expect that call. Now I have to confess that I wasn’t usually all that jazzed to speak with her.

That’s because I hated working on Monday mornings and so Sunday evenings were always kind of the last hoorah before the new work week. After the kids went to bed, Janet and I would sit down to watch TV and sure enough, just as the program was getting to the good part, the phone would ring and it would be Mom. This was before the days of U-Verse and recording multiple shows, so it would cause an interruption and since I didn’t want to disturb Janet, I would leave the room and talk. Of course, I always missed the end of the program we were watching – then Janet would have to fill me in. It just wasn’t the same as seeing it myself. But I didn’t want to be rude to Mom.

Most of the time, she didn’t have much to say. It was small talk – finding out about the kids and what they were doing, how Janet was and usually she asked about my work week coming up. It’s been 14 years since I have received a call at 9:42 p.m. – and you know what? I miss them… in fact, I can’t tell you how many times I glance at the clock on Sunday evenings and it will be 9:42 – not 9:41 or 9:43 – exactly 9:42 p.m. I try to call the kids and keep the tradition alive. But with hectic schedules, their own families and all the distractions of life, I don’t get to speak with the kids as much as I would like. Kristin and Jill check in quite a bit, but Andrew doesn’t stay in touch as much. Maybe it’s a boy thing – but he is pretty limited in his communications and I know he has a bunch of business stuff on his mind.

I also continue the tradition by calling Janet’s folks each week. I don’t have a specific time to call, but I don’t feel right if I don’t talk to them weekly. Maybe traditions from my mother run deeper than I thought – and of course, they are the closest thing I have to my own parents. Janet’s folks aren’t real phone people, though, and let’s face it, I’m the in-law, not the blood relative – so I’m sure it doesn’t mean quite as much. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep calling – I will; well, at least unless they ask me not to.

In fact, I kind of feel like it is a part of my mission – keeping the family together through communication with one another. That brings us to our verse for the evening, from Joshua 22:3, “For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you.”

My encouragement this holiday season is to foster communication between the members of your family. Whether in person, or on the phone, try to reach out and make sure that you do everything you can to stress the importance of staying in touch. My prayer is that God will bless your effort and that you will have a rich Thanksgiving and Christmas filled with new memories to be cherished for years to come. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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