“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in her shoe.” In this old English rhyme written for the prosperity of newlywed couples, “something borrowed” symbolizes borrowed happiness.
Whose marriage or family do you admire? Who has passed down fun traditions to you? In my youth, many women mentored me through their God-given gifts and talents. And now I feel my calling is to pass on these strengths to brides-to-be everywhere. After all, in order to borrow, someone else must be willing to share!
The following are family treasures that I’ve borrowed and applied to my marriage over the years. They’ll hopefully encourage you to do the same.
Family treasure: the gift of nurturing
My paternal grandmother, Grace Aline, was tall, slender and always donned an apron. She had a bashful laugh that said she could tolerate a little playful ribbing. We called her Nana — even the adults.
She was kind-hearted and generous, and she paid great attention to the details. Her special trait was keeping track of everyone’s food preferences. I don’t know how she kept it all straight in a family our size, but I can still remember hearing her exclaim as the meal was being served, “Laura doesn’t like that!”
Looking back, I realize that Nana always made me feel as if I belonged. Nana’s nurturing made me feel connected and special, and now stands as one of the family treasures I aim to pass on. She took a great interest in my likes and dislikes, and that meant I mattered.
Family treasure: the gift of gathering
Nana and Papa’s only daughter, my aunt, was called Ouie (pronounced o-’e-). She was adorned with this name because, when he was a child, my father couldn’t pronounce her given name of Dolores. As a second-grade teacher, she had a special gift of caring for children. But the real thing you need to know about Ouie, and the quality from which we all benefited, is this: She was the glue of the family.
It was evident to me from an early age that we gathered because Ouie called us together. Both her laugh and her home were warm and inviting. On Sundays after church, the family room was a rowdy and boisterous den for the men, filled with the clamor of afternoon football. The women usually unwound around the dining room table after the midday meal. We children would scatter to build forts and three-story dollhouses to avoid clean-up duty.
I took those casual, contented family gatherings for granted back then. Even after I married and moved away, thinking of home meant gathering at Ouie’s and belonging to something bigger. When she unexpectedly passed away, I felt something stir deep inside me — who would carry on her traditions and family treasures to the next generation?
I had always been in awe of the way Ouie gathered folks together with such ease, grace and warmth. In fact, I wanted to grow up to be like her. I wanted to know for certain that I could raise a family who felt loved and cherished, a family who would long to return home. Mostly, in her absence, I desired our family gatherings to carry on with the unity and bonds she’d built. While no one could fill her shoes, I felt I needed to honor her memory and at least try to become our family gatherer.
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Family treasure: the gift of stewardship
My mother, Diane, was a wise steward. We grew up very humbly in my early years, so my mom needed to stretch her grocery dollars.
After looking at the ads and computing her coupons, she often knew her final grocery tally to the penny before arriving at the store. She had to. Credit cards weren’t the norm, and we certainly didn’t have one.
One grocery shopping trip, in particular, stands out. We visited Webb’s City every two weeks after Dad received his paycheck because it was the least expensive store in town. I was given the task of choosing ten Kool-Aid packets from the vast variety of fruity flavors. On that day, when we arrived at the checkout, the bill ran over.
Mom was short on cash, embarrassed, yet somehow bold. She knew what she had to do. She looked at me with a disappointed expression and then gave me a nod. I knew I had to forfeit the meticulously selected Kool-Aid and even the potato chips.
Though I was sad to see my mom embarrassed that day, I didn’t mind giving up our treats. I was proud of her. She was living within her means and teaching us to do the same. She was taking care of us and doing the very best she could with what God provided. I gleaned quite a bit from those grocery shopping expeditions — respect for my mother and maybe a keener understanding of the sacrifices she was making for us.
Passing on the family treasures
These women were my world. They defined our clan through their unique skills and gifts. They embraced me with their love, goodness and knowledge, and in turn, I absorbed it like a sponge. I miss those early years of gathering together, but I’m left with the lessons I borrowed from each family member: Nana’s love of cooking, Ouie’s sense of gathering and Mom’s keen eye on the budget.
These women anchored me to an understanding of family, food, nurturing and belonging. They lived out Titus 2:3-5. Now it’s your turn — What family treasures and lessons have you “borrowed” from your loved ones?