All in the Family

Our neighbors certainly must have wondered when they saw that U-Haul truck in our driveway on Saturday. Furniture at the bottom of the steep ramp, strewn about and waiting. Was it coming—or going?

Well, it was going. We were passing on some pieces to our nephew and his wife. A heavy dresser and mirror. Some tables and chairs. Lamps. Very nice things that we no longer needed or had the room for. Nick is young and has a strong back. But I told him: "Bring two of your biggest, brawniest friends. This stuff is on the second floor and I will be of absolutely no help in the lifting and the carrying down." He had just the right crew with him.

I married Nick and Madison last summer down in Keysville, in a beautiful and moving ceremony alongside her pastor.  On that August Saturday, I gave them words and blessings—this was something a bit more tangible.
 
"Audrey and I started out with nothing," I like to say. "And we still have most of it." But we do have furniture—lots of it. Antiques and other things we have collected across the decades. She has always appreciated antiques, even from a little girl, and so we have prioritized having something to sit or lie on—carefully.

But it wasn't that way when we first set up house.

I remember the day her uncle, Ed Baker, stopped by our little rented house in Farmville. It was just a few weeks after we were married. He was on his way to the county dump to throw away a worn-out sofa and chair when he started thinking about us, wondering if we might need and want them. "Yes, indeed!", we told him. We had almost nothing—just a bed, a kitchen table and chairs, and a microwave oven we had purchased cheap because it had a dent in the top of it. Ed's sofa had a cigarette burn on its' arm as I recall it, but that could be covered up. "Bring it right on in-- and thank you very much," we said.

Now, years later, it only seemed right that we do this—sharing some of our abundance with another young couple just starting out. Coming full circle. A returning of the blessing.

I often think about those early days of our marriage. We didn't own a refrigerator. It was wintertime when we married, though, so we kept our milk and other perishables on the rungs of a step-ladder, outside on the carport. One day her parents came over and brought us theirs. "We needed a new refrigerator", they explained, unconvincingly, "so we thought you might like to have our old one."  And it worked just fine for us many more years. Our church family got together and bought us a washer and dryer that winter, too. We were now set.

I have often said that you can count on the fact that our adult children do not want our things. That antiques and heirlooms don't mean anything to the younger generation. IKEA will do just fine. But I've been surprised that both John Mark and Daniela, and now Nick and Madison, actually do. And rather than waiting until we die, we want to share a lot of that with them now. We will be able to enjoy watching them enjoy it.

We have tried to pass on to them our Christian faith--

   " These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
     Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home 
     or walk along the road..."  Deuteronomy 6:7.

 
Our values and convictions about a wide range of other things, too--

  " Listen, my son, to your father's instruction
      and do not forsake your mother's 
        teaching.
    They are a garland to grace your head
       and a chain to adorn your neck "
-- Proverbs 1:8-9.

They will adopt, adapt, or respectfully discard them, of course—but we have done our best.
This furniture on the U-Haul may stay with them for only a short time, though perhaps for the rest of their lives. And, maybe in a quarter century from now, they will pass these very pieces along to their children or nephews and nieces.

Our love, however, and these lessons for life, will last even longer—maybe for as long as eternity, actually. The very best gifts we have to give.

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