Category Archives: Family

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Reflections on Marriage: From my parents’ 45th anniversary

For my parents’ 45th anniversary in 2012, I

threw them a surprise party. I interviewed them ahead of time and told them that it was for a blog post I was working on about tips for a lasting marriage. My secret intention was to read their answers at the party, which everyone enjoyed. However, so that I uphold my word, here is a long overdue but timely post from my amazing parents’ experience, wisdom and humor. I interviewed them separately so the first time they heard the other person’s reply was at the party.

For those of you who know my theory about trees and clouds, you will clearly see that my dad is a cloud of clouds and my mom is more of a tree. More on that another time.

My parents, Glen & Lillian Whitmore

My parents, Glen & Lillian Whitmore

Me: What was the best advice you have received or been given on marriage?

Dad: I don’t know if it was best, but what comes to mind was a casual casual mini-moment in a sermon. It was the only time I was at this church as a student before we were married in Evansville. Just north of Chicago. I wrote it down. It caught my attention and it stayed. And it’s validity has been confirmed ever since in whatever area, money, decision making, relationships.. because it is a foundation point and that’s the key. Marriage is by faith. A person has no idea what it will look like. What twists and turns it will take, what flexibility it will require. And adaptability. And steadfastness that marriage the relationship will require. So you agree to it as a concept with no idea what it looks like but you agree to it by faith. You can’t go back. It’s very forward-looking in a positive directional sense. Colossians 3:15 says something that would be helpful. 

Mom: I never remember these things. I don’t remember if someone told me but choose the right person. Be smart about who you choose.

 

Me: What do you remember about your wedding day?

Dad: There will be several things – 3 with no particular order.

1. As we were walking up the aisle, Lil noticed “You’re trembling. Are you ok?” Yes. But probably embarking on a whole new thing. Life in 10 minutes looked totally different. 

2. We had discussed ahead of time, everyone attending was surprised, our vows were memorized (I had never said them perfectly until the right moment – to the relief and amazement of the bride). We had decided we would pray. I prayed the prayer of blessing over the microphone on the floor. 

3.  We had planned our escape from the several imagined people who would give pursuit. It worked flawlessly (even though no one chased). Footnote to that: talk to each other and plan well together.

Mom: It was fun. It was simple. Lot of our friends were there. And the bird got killed by the cat. Grandma Whitmore was looking after Mor-Mor’s bird [Anne’s great-grandmother]. And dad had a kitten the summer he was home. After the afternoon wedding and reception (cake, nuts and punch and tea and coffee), we went back to Willlowcrest [Anne’s Grandma’s home] to visit with family from out of town. And Grandma Whitmore was so upset. I had never seen her so upset. Everyone showed up. No glitches.  I had no doubts. I didn’t have any second thoughts. Sure was simpler than weddings now. 

 

Me: What is a fond memory of the last 45 years of marriage?

Dad: There are too many. (We came back to this one). People. 

1.  Outside our family: Qualified by significant relationships of mutual respect. Because wherever we lived, there was always at least one couple that was a cut above everyone else in every way and the close friendship. 

2. Our kids 

Mom: My goodness. I think probably the surprise trip to Glacier with Keebaughs before we left Idaho. I think just the experience of being in Idaho was really special. I don’t have unfond memories so it is hard to say the fondest one. Our trip to Vietnam. There have been lots of good ones. 

 

Me: What is your secret for making your marriage last?

Dad: Goes back to flexible, adaptable and talking together. A LOT. A lot is not good enough. Talking together about all of life including working through processing discoveries, working through surprises. Related to those, to read a lot and pray a lot and maintain a forward perspective.  

Mom: (chuckles) I don’t think I ever entertained the thought that it wouldn’t last. It was never on my radar that it wouldn’t last. So when I went into it, I went into it for the long haul. Seeing the positive side of things and not taking anything (I do take life seriously) but pessimistically seriously. Always believing that we would get through it and things would get better. Just life in general. Our common faith definitively contributed. Being willing to change. Holding in balance being dependable so we can count on each other (I never had a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn’t be there when I needed him)  and being adaptable. Not being stuck in a rut. 

 

Me: What is your favorite thing about the other person?

Dad: Three parts. 

First one is my enjoyment, admiration and respect of how she has developed her talents and gifts. Because this is a long story and it did not come easily and it has only been in the last 22 years and to me it has been very very fascinating to behold. 

2. Summary word would be her continual support. What was the question again? (that wasn’t one of the 3)

3. Her ability to succinctly communicate wisdom. Because I am an introvert and I look at someone who can express things well and I say, that’s really cool. I have to work at it – in contrast. Again, lots of illustration on that. 

4. Probably has to do with flexible.

Mom: I think as groaner-ish as his sense of humor is, his sense of humor. 

What was the question now?

His willingness to change.

His dependability. 

His kindness.

O yes, we’re so different. But that’s what makes it interesting. 

 

Ain’t that the truth.

 

I’m grateful to my parents for sharing and modelling real life love.

In Joy,

anne

 

By Anne Whitmore

 


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Tis the Season… of Traditions

Our family has some Swedish heritage so our big family event is Christmas Eve (although, now that I think about it, we also have Christmas Day brunch and turkey dinner on Christmas Day. So we actually had 2 full days of activities… Funny how we can

tell ourselves something that sets a frame when the reality is actually wider.)

Anyhow, we have certain Swedish things that have always been part of our  family tradition on Christmas Eve like sil (pickled herring), potatiskorv (potato sausage) and spritz (little shortbread cookies). Usually the kids help out with making these throughout the week leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we have dinner at my parents’ with our traditional foods (every now and then my mom tries to throw other things in). After dinner, the dishes must be done before we sit together in the living room and listen to my father read the Christmas story from the Bible. Lighting the advent wreath is also another tradition in our home so on Christmas Eve, the white candle is lit to symbolize the birth of Jesus. My dad will say a prayer of gratitude and blessing and then…. the presents!

The youngest in the family is always the one who hands out the gifts from under the tree (and the tree is always Charlie Brown style as per my dad’s preference). We usually take turns opening one gift at a time. Anyone who receives clothing must model it (this was quite funny when I was younger because my mom’s mom would send her underwear every Christmas. Not only were they granny panties but they were always way too big.) After all the presents are opened (and my dad has collected the paper for recycling), we sit back at the table for dessert.

Over the years, our traditions have changed slightly. I think my mom has managed to add some vegetables to our Christmas Eve dinner. We used to read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” together over the weeks of advent and then read the final chapter on Christmas Eve. That no longer is part of our practice although there is usually a joke about the Herdman’s during the evening. In the last couple years, we also play a domino game called the Mexican Train after dessert. Some years, we have included other people at different meals but we have decided that Christmas Eve is most special to us when it is our family at the table.

This year, my new in-laws will be joining us for our Christmas Eve festivities. We have added a new twist to presents as we have added new people to the mix. This year we are doing a present swap. Each person is bringing a wrapped gift with a maximum cost of $25 and we will choose a gift and maybe swipe from each other. Just for kicks, we are doing a second gift with a maximum value of $1.

 

What are your traditions?

How have they evolved?

What do they mean to you?

Where is your frame set on narrow when there is more in the wider picture?


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Making the most of your vacation

Check out my guest post on creating a fulfilling vacation on the BNI Amplify Health and Wellness team blog.


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New addition to the family: meet Emily

We have a new addition to our family. Her name is Emily and she is a sweet as can be. She has dark, inquisitive eyes and brown and light hair. We weren’t expecting her arrival but now that she is here, we love her to bits.

Emily, our new pet rat

Emily is my teenage daughter’s pet rat. My daughter wasn’t able to care for her and asked us to foster Emily. I have to admit that the idea of having a rat in the house was not appealing to begin with. I thought rats were dirty and sneaky… and then there is the tail… Regardless, the rat arrived and so I researched how to take care of her and adjusted living space to make room for her cage and supplies. Rats are actually very clean animals and extremely intelligent. I *think* that I have trained Emily to jump and to climb down and I’m working on getting her to ride in my hoodie. For the most part, my roles and responsibilities are pretty straightforward. There are a ton of websites but they all seem to be pretty consistent in the recipe for a happy, well cared for rat.

The aforementioned teenager who owns the rat… not so straightforward.