Living with Open Hands

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Christmas Eve

I should write a profound post about the end of 2013 or pull together a fantastic year in review, which I may do yet, but today I want to tell you a small story.  I’ve been thinking about living an open-handed life, of teaching my children to be generous to others, of giving things away to bless people, and finding joy in it all. We’ve had a few opportunities to do this lately, and it’s been lovely. We’ve also been the recipients of generosity and have felt the love of people, and even more so, the love of our Father who knows our needs, and even the small desires of our hearts.

Now for the story, which I realize is a bit long, so I’ll break it into two parts.

I have a thing for a lovely dinner table. Growing up,  my mom put candles on the table every night when we sat down for dinner as a family. I didn’t know that candles weren’t on every table, or that other families didn’t come together to share a meal each night. I was unaware of how blessed I was. On birthdays she set our table with china and sparkling crystal goblets; we felt very special.

One of the early homes Russ and I had was in student housing at Cornell. Hannah was 18 months when we moved there, and Mimi was born eight months later. I often let Hannah and Mimi make a little centerpiece for our table, which was wedged tightly against the cement block wall of our tiny apartment. We gathered pine cones and flowers, and sometimes included toy farm animals. We had no money, but candles on the table made us feel rich.

For our tenth wedding anniversary we bought a big table that extended to ten feet with both leaves. I never imagined that we would spend the next twenty years with those leaves nearly always in place. Most nights the table has a tablecloth (to cover the poor finish), candles down the middle, and sometimes a little centerpiece.

In lean years, our table has remained a place of beauty for me – the people gathered, the glow of candles, well loved dishes, and food to nourish us. For birthdays, we use our wedding china,which I didn’t want at the time, but my mom, in her wisdom, advised me that one day I might want it. She was right.  Sometimes on Sundays I use my Nana’s Desert Rose dishes and we always set the Sunday table with fancy glasses;  anything with a stem is considered “fancy”, even if it’s only a $1.00 iced tea glass.

Last month my friend, Liz, gave me a sideboard she no longer needed, and I have loved it every day since. I moved my Nana’s dishes there, together with the Sunday glasses, tablecloths, candles, and other treasures. For the first time I had a more accessible place for the dishes I like to use. Then it occurred to me that maybe, with this amazing extra space,  I could get some Christmas dishes. I did some searching and chose the iconic Christmas pattern, Spode Christmas Tree, not only because I knew the kids would love it, but because it goes on crazy sales and is easy to find.

[Part 2 tomorrow – thanks for letting me share this story with you.]

Lisa

 

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

12 Comments

  1. Karen NumberTwo Hannaford
    January 2, 2014

    Hey what a cool idea! Our table is not particularly accessible at the moment. It's a mission to pull it out. But you have inspired me to want to use it more. Well actually as soon as we've finished the skirting and stuff in the formal lounge, the lounge suite will exit the dining room and I can put my table back in there and have it nice (I hope). But so far it's taken a lot longer than I had anticipated and some of the motivation had left. Now I'm excited about it again! I need somewhere to keep the table cloths and nice dishes though. *dreaming of a nice side board*

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 2, 2014

      I hope you get to enjoy your table again, Karen.

      Reply
  2. Laura
    January 2, 2014

    I too remember Mom putting candles on the table and eating dinner every night as a family at 6:00. I put candles on the table every night, although I must admit since it is just Fred and I we do not light them every night. I felt it was such an important tradition, that for Christmas I sent Drew's fiance, Meagan, candle sticks, bobeches, and a round place mat to set them on as a centerpiece. Hoping that Andrews family tradition lives on in Virginia. Wonder if all our kids will.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 2, 2014

      What a nice gift for Meagan. I approve!

      Reply
  3. blesseday
    January 2, 2014

    I'm enjoying the story so far! (I love a good story, and clearly this one is setting up for some good heart thought)

    Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 2, 2014

      I thought it was going to be a few paragraphs, but somehow it grew. I'll wrap it up tomorrow.

      Reply
  4. MommaFoster
    January 2, 2014

    Looking forward to part 2! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 2, 2014

      Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Bethel
    January 2, 2014

    Hello friend! I loved the mental picture of Hannah and Mimi making a center piece for your table when they were little. So sweet! I love pretty tables, too.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 2, 2014

      They were such cute little girls 🙂 They are still much better at arranging flowers than I am!

      Reply
  6. Becky Ratliff Podhajsky
    January 10, 2014

    I love this story. My grandmother left the exact same Christmas dishes to me when she passed away on 2006. I can hardly wait to pull them out after Thanksgiving every year. I know she would be so thrilled knowing we eat so many family dinners on them. They add so much festivity to the season. May your family be so blessed!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 11, 2014

      It's fun having the same dishes as friends. I feel happy just thinking about your family using them!

      Reply

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