Friday, December 13, 2013

The Lincoln Logs Manger - 11 Days


Ron and I were married in 1968 and, after five childless years, adopted a family of three through the State of Oregon.  They were two ruffians, aged 10 and eight, and a four-year-old diva.   We were over-the-moon excited. 

A year later,Ron's job was terminated and we had to relocate.  That holiday season when I brought our Christmas things up from the basement, I realized that I had most of our Nativity set, but the shepherds and the structure were missing.  I looked everywhere and discovered an unfamiliar box with teaching supplies in it.  I concluded that somewhere a teacher was trying to post the alphabet around her classroom with our shepherds and manger.  I was bummed.  My life - or rather, my motherhood - wasn't turning out quite the way I'd imagined.  I wasn't as good or as smart as I thought I'd be.  I thought love would solve everything, but while it's a powerful tool and usually wins out in the end, there's a lot of messiness in the middle that requires knowledge and understanding - difficult things to come by with confused and frustrated children.  I needed my manger!

On a shopping expedition to Portland, we found a sale of Fontanini nativity sets.  They were beautiful but a little pricey.  There was one set, though, that was half price!   As we made the purchase, I remarked to the clerk how lucky we were to have found the sale, and she said,  "You realize the ones you bought are half price because the shepherds are missing and it has no building?" Accepting that as some cosmic joke on us, we took them home, not much better off than we were before.

Ron went down to the basement while I fixed dinner and emerged with a dusty, ancient box  and a wide smile.  "Part of the roblem solved," he said.  He'd found the Lincoln Logs from his childhood.  If you're too young to know what those are, they're a building set from the Thirties and Forties (maybe older) using wooden log-shaped pieces with notched ends.  I was doubtful, but I smiled supportively.

He cleared off the top of our old stereo and started building.   Interested, the children went to help.  By the time dinner was ready, the four of them had built a very elegant structure with a pen for the animals.  Our new figures looked beautiful inside - even without shepherds.  Mike, Pat, and Kathy were thrilled with the outcome and Ron wore the triumphant look of the man who has saved the day.

After dinner, when everyone else was occupied, I went to take another, closer look at the manger.  It WAS beautiful, and I had a sort of epiphany.  The manger was patched together like our lives. Wow.   I clearly remember that as a turning point in my mission as a mother, a rededication of myself to the job.  A new serenity came over me.  I could do this.  It wouldn't always be pretty, and it would take more than I thought I had, but I could do it.

It occurred to me, too, that  most times, there is no visible shepherd to guide you.  You have to look inside to find Him.






   




them home

17 comments:

  1. A beautiful post, as always. I loved your epiphany moment. And when you said...

    "I thought love would solve everything, but while it's a powerful tool and usually wins out in the end, there's a lot of messiness in the middle that requires knowledge and understanding..."

    I thought, wow, that sums up what all romance novel journeys are about too! ;). You're such a lovely person, Muriel. Wishing you a Happy Holiday.

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    1. Good point, Rula. Maybe that's why I came to Romance. Wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas.

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  2. The nativity is such a great metaphor for the period in your life. You were a patchworked family- but all the more beautiful, interesting, and special because of it. What a wonderful life you were able to give those children! Your giving, selfless soul shines in every word of this lovely post!

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    1. I like to think that when an outsider looks at us now, he'd never know that the children are from in my heart and not my womb. In fact, Mike, our eldest, looks a lot like me and laughs because someone's always saying, "You can sure tell that's your kid." Merry Christmas, Karen!

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  3. Such a beautiful post. It's the little hiccups in life that we seem to remember most. So glad you were able to accept life's blessings at the time - a great lesson to us all.

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    1. Thank you, Mel. Life would be so much easier if blessings didn't come disguised as challenges or outright failures. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  4. Beautiful post Muriel. Your family is very lucky to have...as are we, your HH sisters!

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Our HH sisterhood is like some hot urban tribe. I love it! (sent you an email. Need help with something.) Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  5. Muriel, What a great story. Did the manger survive through the years? I had Lincoln logs. I think Ron would have had to glue them together to get them to stay. What I think is wonderful is that you took all of the children. So many times they get split up and that must be so hard. On the other hand, siblings can band together against the world. There is a special place in heaven for good adoptive parents.

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  6. We'd asked for a baby, but when our caseworker showed us the photos of these gorgeous children, we were sunk. And she'd put it to us just that way - they'd been in foster care for two years and would have to be separated if they weren't placed soon. It was one of those occasions where if you knew what you were doing you'd never do it, but fortunately you don't, so you plunge in. And you're right about the children banding together. It was hard for us to get in there. They were a solid force and it took a long time for them to make room for us. And, in truth, Ron and I had been alone together for five years. It was hard for us, too, to pull apart a little and let them in.

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  7. You did it again. Made me cry.
    Lincoln logs are still around. My eight year old has them. He prefers his legoes, but digs out the logs every once in awhile. As an adopted child, I never felt anything but love. I looked a lot like Dad. I used to think I was his by some clandestine affair and someday they'd fess up. I wasn't. He didn't have affairs. And, I think I mentioned this before, my mom used to dye her hair black so she'd look look more like my mother. She was a bright red-head and I had black, black, black hair. LOL, I'm mostly Native America, as was my dad. Mom was a red-head Czech.

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  8. You have to tell us about your background sometime, Pam. I imagine a Native American/Czech household with YOU in it has many fascinating stories. Isn't it wonderful what love can pull together? Have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas, Pam.

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  10. Another beautiful post, Muriel. You hit on so many truths in so few words. Thank you for touching our hearts.

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  11. Thank YOU for the compliment. All of you live in my heart. Merry Christmas, Syndi.

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  12. What a story. How hard you all must have worked to make the word family into a reality and how blessed you are that you make it work (with the help of the invisible shepherd). I am sniffly over this and wish I'd saved the boys' Lincoln logs.

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    1. Thanks goodness Ron is a packrat. We take the structure apart after Christmas and Ron rebuilds it the following year. It's always a little different and I love that. Amazing how little solutions can make big changes in us. Merry Christmas, Liz!

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