Spice of Life
Recently Tom and I had a conversation regarding when our extended families started hugging to greet and to say good-bye. Hugging was not a tradition for either the Kim family or the Neill family. We both concluded that our dear friend Tricia started the tradition. I used to invite the Kims (my side) and the Neills and Tricia for Thanksgiving dinners. She is my very dear friend. She is a very outgoing and delightful person who brings warmth wherever she goes. Hugging comes naturally for her from her Italian heritage. When she says hello and good-bye, she hugs us. She came with us to Neill family reunions and everyone loved her. The kids—my children, nieces, and nephews—accepted her as a part of the Neill clan. By the time our first camping trip with her was over, we were all transformed into huggers. Thank you, dear Tricia. I treasure this display of affection.
Amy is one of my dearest friends. Amy’s oldest daughter and my youngest daughter are best friends. They claim that they will be the best of friends forever. I hope so.
I first met Amy when I was in college. I was twenty years old and she was a baby. Yes, we are twenty years apart. Her parents were a young couple, oh maybe five to seven years older than me. They invited many college students for dinner. I remember the cozy apartment which was within a large building which our congregation used as our church meeting place. Her dad was in college with me as was Tom, my future husband. Baby Amy was so cute. I held her. I watched her crawl. She was so adorable. Little did I realize then that our daughters would bring us together, and I would love her as a friend and sister.
Henna, my oldest daughter, says this was her idea. A couple times a year we would all gather around our fireplace. We would roast marshmallows, make campfire pies, and drink hot chocolate. We would haul our queen-size mattress over by the fireplace. When the kids were young, they would have pillow fights with dad. As the kids got older we would play board games, talk, listen to music, or any other various things, always keeping the fire alive and blazing. The biggest part was the whole family sleeping together—mom and dad and anyone else who could fit on the queen-size mattress...the others very close by.
One winter, Lizy decided that we would all be in our bathrobes to participate. It was in the middle of December. Christian, my son, called his friend Andrew to join us, but let him know the required attire. Christian picked up Andrew. When they walked in, there was Andrew with a bathrobe over his jeans and sweater like the rest of us! It was fun.
We were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Stevens and we were planning on a two-week vacation. Our kids were very young. The Stevens did not know where we were going. It would be a surprise. It had been so hot in the Chicago area for so long that we could not even imagine packing long pants and long shirts, never mind jackets, extra socks, and such. The first day in Michigan was damp and cool. Every day it was misty, rainy, or cold. We packed one pair of long pants for each child for emergency cool weather. Soon their socks and pants needed to be washed and dried. We built a fire for cooking and at the end of dinner, Christian brought out his socks. He was tired of wet socks. We put them on the grill over the coals to dry. It wasn’t long before our noses told us his socks were actually roasting. They were turning black and smoky. The next day we went into town and bought clothes, clothes, and more clothes...sweat pants, shirts, jackets, and socks for everyone.