On New Year’s Day, over Maemae’s Swedish Christmas Ginger Cookies in the shapes of Star Wars characters with a side of sparkling cider, I got to share stories with my nephews and my littles. They sat around the picnic table I bought and brought home and painted on one of the occasions the Fella was out of town years ago. Bless him, he never knows what he’ll be coming home to.
It was a beautiful day to sit by the fire and share stories. I suppose I had an ulterior motive, but too many stories left this world with first my Daddy and then my Mama, so when I have the chance, I’m gonna tell ’em and they’re gonna listen.
We talked about superheroes. This crew knows their stuff. They named several I had no idea whom they were talking about. Superheroes are cool, able to do amazing things that we can’t. I remember thinking about what one superpower I’d want if I were offered such as that–it would be to be able to discern at a glance whether any food allergens were present. But that’s another story.
Then we talked about real-life heroes and how they were real whereas the superheroes were not. They named the standard police men and women, fire and rescue teams, ambulance drivers, military members, sheriffs, teachers, doctors, nurses…..and so on. They had this down too.
I told them I wanted to tell them about two of my heroes. Our Princess piped up, “Maemae and Cap!” (Way to mess with my momentum, baby girl.) I looked down at her, eyes blinking, for a moment. She smiled and shrugged. “You told me they were your heroes one time.”
Well, she’s right.
I explained to this bunch of little people who had just had such an awesome week playing and imagining and running around together that the two people they all had in common are my heroes.
“You know why?”
The shook their heads.
“Because they were kind. They didn’t leave anyone out. They loved everyone. What’s the first thing Maemae always did when you walked in her back door?”
My brother’s oldest piped up, “Give you a hug!”
Spot on. Absolutely right. That woman loved her hugs. Giving and receiving them.
Before I could nod and confirm his answer, his younger brother shouted, “Ask you to take off your shoes!”
Ha. Well yes. Yes, she did.
And that was another thing that makes my parents my heroes.
They took care of what they had. We did not grow up in a disposable household. There was none of this, “oh well it’s okay if it breaks, we’ll just get another one.” You took care of what you had–clothes, shoes, books, toys, dishes, everything–or you didn’t have it.
My parents were good stewards. They saved and when they did spend it was well thought out and rarely on something frivolous. They were good stewards of their money, of their home, of their time, of the land, of their children.
They took care of their things and of others.
And there was one more story I wanted to tell my little people.
“They also told the truth. They spoke up for what was right, and what came out of their mouth was the truth, no matter how hard it was for them to stand up for ‘right.’ No matter how unpopular it made them.”
And now, as a parent, I can respect that so much more than when I was an embarrassed teenager.
A few weeks ago, my crew and I were watching an episode of “Girl Meets World.” The daughter was struggling because, as a middle school student, she wanted to be popular with the “in” crowd. In defense of her changed behavior and dress, she told her mom, “I’m popular with at least five people.” Her mom (Topanga, for those of you who remember “Boy Meets World”) replied, “Well is one of those five you?”
That kind of truth is what I was raised with. Speaking truth and living true to who we are.
It is interesting that to this day, the ones I hold in highest regard and admire as heroes (a word I don’t use lightly) are kind, take care of all that is around them, and speak the truth, no matter how difficult that may be.
After I shared about why Maemae and Cap are my heroes, the littles had their own stories to share. It was neat to hear the memories all the littles had of my parents, their grandparents, and it was just as important for me to listen to their stories as it was for them to hear mine. I think that is what family does best, when they sit down together and just “be”–they carry on the stories for those who have yet to come to hear.
Wishing you all someone to share your stories with, and someone to share their stories with you. Those are really the only things no one can take away from us.
Love to all.