I remember the tumbleweed

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I mentioned a few days ago that it’s been a little bit of a struggle going through all our stuff and selling alot of it at our garage sale this weekend.

Ok, alot of a struggle.

I encouraged you to read this post the other day and I hope you did. It was that little push I needed to keep purging through all our stuff.

But still as I’d be going through the kids clothes or our dishes or the toys or the Christmas decorations I’d think, “I love this.” Or “Angel loves this so much.” Or, “I could use this someday I’m sure.”

But then I tried to remember.

And I couldn’t remember even one outfit that I had from my childhood.  Or one pair of shoes.

But I do remember going barefoot outside on the farm and running through the fields and playing on the haystacks and getting chased by psycho roosters. Alot of times with no clothes on at all!

I couldn’t remember any toys we had.

Except one. I remember the homemade black cloth doll my sister and I got one Christmas. And I remember all the Christmases at Grandma Harriet’s and sitting on Grandpa Hank’s lap and all the cousins playing dress up and putting on plays in the basement.

And my mom and aunts getting a little bit tipsy (ok alot) off Jagermeister. HA!

I couldn’t remember any dishes or appliances we had as a kid. I couldn’t remember if our dishes matched or if we had plastic or paper or glass.

But I do remember my dad making goulash and my parents making deer and trying to convince us it was hamburger and my parents making liver and onions and stinking up the house. And I remember sitting together in the living room in front of the tv eating together.

I couldn’t remember any birthday presents or birthday parties.

Except one. My 7th birthday. In the basement of Grandma Harriet’s house.  No fancy cake or decorations and I don’t remember any presents I got. But I remember my aunts and cousins came and we played musical chairs. I won but I think they let me win. And my aunt Joanne gave me 7 spankings.

I couldn’t remember any fancy cars or big fancy houses.

But I do remember all the old beater cars. The Hooter Van that was a hundred years old and huge. The Diesel Durango that took our family of six out to California and up the coast to Oregon and back home to South Dakota (except the engine blew half way). The Beast. My yellow 1970’s car that I’d drive 60 going down the main road of our town with friends in the back and we’d hit a bump and go flying. (Please Angel and Caleb don’t read this.) And we’d lock the doors and roll the windows down and pretend to be the Dukes of Hazard and have to get in through the windows.  And we’d outrun those stinky seniors our freshman year of high school as they’d try to initiate us during homecoming week!

I remember our old farm-house with a huge heater grill in the middle of the living room floor and we’d have to be so careful not to get anything on it. I remember the other old farm-house that I don’t think was ever finished but it had a spirally staircase and a tire swing in the backyard.  I remember the small apartment in Colorado where me and my three siblings had two sets of bunk beds and all shared a bedroom.  I remember the double wide trailer that we lived in for ten years through high school and my dad built a huge addition himself and don’t you dare knock living in a double wide trailer because it was our home.

I couldn’t remember going shopping with my mom or going to the spa or going on road trips.

But I do remember working out on the farm as a family. Giving shots, castrating, and cutting off tails of the sheep. Hearing dad get mad and swear at the sheep and mom yelling at my dad to stop swearing.  Helping mom and dad when a mama sheep couldn’t birth her lamb and they’d run in and ask one of us to come help.  I remember taking care of bottle lambs and going on horse rides. I remember going down to the river and getting full of mud and going fishing. I remember playing Shanghai rummy over and over. I remember going to Grandma Harriet’s and spending almost the entire summer there and riding bikes with the neighborhood kids and eating lunch at noon sharp and having to use the same plate for ice cream.

I don’t remember my parents buying us big fancy gifts.

But I do remember them always being there. No. Matter. What. I remember my mom sending me over a dozen letters when I was on a band/choir tour in Europe. At every hotel we’d arrive to there would be a letter waiting for me.  I remember my dad doing anything for us kids. I remember them fighting like crazy but sticking it out. Through the good times and through the really tough times.  I remember them being at most sporting and music events. I remember them working two and three jobs in addition to the farm so we could make it through. I remember them giving up the farm and sheep, their life-long dream, because they thought life would be better and easier for us kids if we lived in town.

I couldn’t remember any Christmas decorations we had.

But I do remember the tumbleweed Christmas. There were four of us kids and money was tight. More than tight. There was no money for a Christmas tree. So my dad tromped out into the cold and snow and brought home a huge tumbleweed. Mom and dad sprayed it white and let us put tinsel all over.  We were all together, my baby brother Jim just home from the hospital, sitting around this huge tumbleweed in the living room, each of us getting just one or two gifts.

I know that there can also be memories made with big trips and nice cars and nice stuff.  But I don’t want to convince myself that if my kids don’t have a closet full of clothes or if we don’t have as many Snowman Christmas decorations that they’ll somehow be scarred for life.  Because it’s not in the stuff.

It’s in the time spent. It’s the minutes and hours and days. Time with family. Time with friends.  Love. Laughter. Committment. Time. I want each day of my kid’s life to be a reflection of that tumbleweed Christmas. Taking something pretty plain and in most eyes ugly. And making it beautiful and something to never be forgotten.

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