Family togetherness has lots of benefits


Because Mom passed away a week ago last Sunday, Paul and I have spent time with close and extended family members. Their encouragement and support has been invaluable as we discovered the benefits of dividing burdens and multiplying joys. 
June is often a month to appreciate families. Mom’s celebration of life service, our son’s 30th birthday, Father’s Day, and our 38th wedding anniversary, are all occurring within a one-week span this year, so we acknowledge God’s gracious gift of being granted the privilege of being “family”.
Though aching for family, it became unrealistic for all of us to be together for this eventful week. Krista’s email became part of Mom’s service since she was the only grandchild unable to attend the celebration of a well-lived life. Last night she said it was probably harder to be absent than to be present. She will get the first DVD of the uplifting service.
I am sure in days and years ahead, I’ll find myself focusing on family memories.
One such occasion was my parents’ 40th anniversary in 1976. Paul and I were still practically newlyweds, but being in ministry, we could seldom be part of celebrations with my parents, siblings and the extended family members.
However, we did make their 40th anniversary. In fact, we were the program. We were to show slides of the trip to Alaska we took with my parents in 1973.
Slides can provide an evening’s entertainment or they can make hostages of those politely viewing someone else’s “fascinating” trips and relatives. Remember those “live melts” when slides were talked about too long?
That evening, we enjoyed the refreshing sounds of family and friends comfortably laughing together. We quickly “toured” Alaska, but we interjected our humorous narrative of Mom and Dad’s courtship and first 40 years of marriage. 
Anniversaries should be occasions to celebrate marriages, certainly worth writing about.
Weeks ago, I rattled off June topics, none of which I have used so far. However, Paul hesitantly remembers I said I would write about anniversary gifts. He also said he was glad he’d be out of town about the time this column hits the stands.
We don’t go overboard on anniversary gifts, but last year’s won’t easily be forgotten. 
Remember thumbing through free give-away calendar booklets with long lists of traditional anniversary gifts? I rarely spot one now, maybe because people rarely keep traditions.  
The first year, for example, is paper. Years ago, a box of stationery might have awed “Ma Ingalls”, but few women write letters these days. Perhaps today’s first anniversary paper gifts could be cash, or a check, or, as Susan B. Sardone suggests, an airline ticket.
The second year, by tradition, is cotton. Sardone suggests a beach towel as part of a beach vacation. The third year is supposed to be leather, which has her suggesting luggage. The fourth is flowers so she suggests a trip to Hawaii.
You get the picture. Traditional gifts become bygones.  
Last year, unable to think of something worth spending good money on, and admitting we sometimes forget past gifts, we came up with identical gifts for our 37th that we would easily remember.  
To spare Paul embarrassment, you unscramble the letters. Hint: our gift is easily put off, sometimes gives couples more years together, and when you tell others what you received for your anniversary, you’ll almost certainly get a laugh: olnopsocyco.
Don’t plan a long life without one. If nothing else prompts you, get it as an anniversary gift you won’t forget.  

Marge Warder is a news reporter for the Red Oak Express. She can be contacted at

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