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Monday, October 31, 2011

A Positive Feeling in the Family

Last night, my husband and my brother and I had dinner with an old friend, “Bob,” and his girlfriend. Bob and my brother have been pals since kindergarten. Our family and Bob’s family occupied twin tri-level houses a block apart. There were five kids and two parents in our family, four kids and two parents in Bob’s.

We reminisced for three hours over chili, cornbread, and pumpkin-flavored frozen custard. (If you don’t know what frozen custard is, weep because you don’t live in Wisconsin.) Right at the end of the evening, Bob told us how much he enjoyed visiting our home when he was growing up. He said there was a positive feeling in our house. Our parents talked to him like he was a person. They talked to him with respect. Even our pesky little brother George was polite, never disrespectful.

Bob said his own family lacked all of these attributes.

Friends have told me they enjoyed coming over to my parents’ house in the old days, but I’ve never heard it put the way Bob did: “A positive feeling.”

That doesn’t mean our family didn’t have our share of problems. It means that in spite of any problems we had, there was a positive feeling overall.

Bob’s remembrance is one of the most beautiful compliments I’ve ever heard for my family of origin. I like to imagine that wherever George and my parents are now, they heard Bob’s words and smiled.

My own home is long empty of my young children and their friends. I hope that those friends remember the same thing about visiting our home: “A positive feeling.”

There is a way to get through November

November in the North is bleak. Leaden sky. Cold air. Whipping wind. Icy rain.

We grumble. This transition from autumn to winter is hard on us.  Once we’re settled into full winter, we gain courage. We become strong. We deal with cumbersome layers of clothing, cold car seats, and chipping ice off windshields.

But November is The Locking: transition time, neither fall nor winter. Mother Nature needs time to lock up for her long sleep to come.