I was just reading to you

YertleA few months ago, I had the privilege of holding my newest grandchild, Daniel, just hours after his birth. He was swaddled snugly in a dinosaur-covered blanket, sporting a matching cap. I quickly accepted the offer to hold him and said the first thing that came to my mind. “I was reading a story to you yesterday, remember?”

Less than twenty-four hours before, I had sat down to read one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books to Daniel’s big brother, Elijah. Elijah soon lost interest and galloped away to do something else. But his mom, exactly 40 weeks pregnant with little brother was also sitting on the sofa, slowly rubbing her belly. So I kept on reading Yertle the Turtle, delighting as the precarious tower of turtles collapsed, leaving Yertle with a kingdom of nothing more than the mud into which he fell.

As I chatted with Daniel, I paused to marvel at all the voices I the world that he would recognize. His mom and dad, of course. His big brother, grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles. On more than one occasion, I would stoop down and “talk to the tummy.” Those on the outside would roll their eyes as I asked, “What’s your name?” “When’s your birthday?” and “Whatcha doin’ in there?” I like to believe Daniel merely thought, “Don’t worry, Apa, I’ll let you know soon!”

I like having conversations with little people. Even before they can respond with words, I can tell they are listening very carefully. Sometimes they’ll respond by looking deeply into your eyes. Or they’ll twist their mouth into interesting little shapes. They squint when you blow in their face and say, “It’s windy day!” And sometimes they look excited as you move their legs to make them run as fast as they can or move their arms to make them dance.

I love to read stories to kids, especially my grandchildren. I like to think I’m pretty good at it, too. In fact, I like to believe that story got the show on the road. A few hours after “the end” the contractions began. I think my young audience wanted to see the pictures that went along with the story!

Soda explosion? No thanks.

7114275_f520I had a bonus day with my grandson Elijah yesterday. His mom wasn’t feeling well, so he spent the day and night at our house while she got some rest.

The first thing on our agenda: pick up a prescription for mom, along something for her to drink. That doesn’t sound too hard. When we arrived at CVS, we first grabbed some soda and some Gatorade, then made our way back to the pharmacy counter. Determined to be the world’s best two-and-a-half-year-old helper, Elijah insisted on carrying one of the drinks. First the Gatorade. Then the soda. Then the Gatorade. Then the soda. Repeat and repeat and repeat.

There was only one person ahead of us in line at the pickup, but they certainly weren’t in any hurry. My assistant waited with me as patiently as he could, which meant bouncing in place until it was our turn. As I spoke to the tech at the cash register, I heard a man chuckling as he sat and waited off to the side. He enjoyed watching Elijah shake the bottle of soda up and down, occasionally dropping it and chasing it across the floor before picking it up again.

Well, the prescription wasn’t even ready. So first things first. We’re definitely not taking  that soda back home to mom. Back into the cooler it goes. Is that bad? Not for me. No soda explosions on my to-do list.

The store wasn’t big enough to contain Elijah’s energy, so we touched every candy bar in from of the checkout, bought our drink, and got out of there to grab some lunch. We had a lot more fun stuffing fries into our mouths at McDonald’s than we would have had galloping through the aisles in CVS. When we were done, we opted for the drive-through prescription pickup, and we were on our way home.

Yeah, pretty much anywhere we go together is an adventure!

Movie day: “The Star”

img_8139.jpgToday was movie day. My wife and I took our two oldest grandchildren to see “The Star,” an animated and creatively adventurous telling of the Christmas story, involving the experience and help of assorted animals.

Since the movie was released about six weeks ago, so we had to search for a theater still showing it. One about a half an hour from our home still had showings today and tomorrow, so the four of us headed out for the noon show. Both the three and two year old had sat through movies in a theater before, so both had popcorn on their minds when we arrived. The lady at the counter told us we could save a lot of money just getting a large popcorn and drink to split between them, but we knew better. Each grandchild had to have their own and they had to have the same, even if it meant a larger investment. It worked like a charm. The snacks lasted them the whole 90 minute show!

I thought “The Star” was well done. Yes, it is a wild departure from the biblical account, with a large cast of talking animals. But from the annunciation to the birth in Bethlehem, I believe that the plans and miracles of God along with the faith and struggles of Mary and Joseph were well presented. I enjoyed it, laughed out loud a lot, and especially liked a camel’s mishearing of Herod’s concern about a “king of the shoes.”26168646_10155353178098460_213610419848755604_n

 

Grandpa Golcher

three guysThis is one of the few pictures I have of my dad, grandfather (my mom’s dad) and myself.  I think I am about three years old here. How many pictures will my grandchildren have with their grandfathers? Hundreds and hundreds.

Grandpa Julius Golcher is somewhat of an enigma. When a friend who knew his way around genealogy attempted to do a family tree on my mom’s side, he could go no further back than Julius’ parents in Costa Rica. Which is interesting, because we were always told he was from Argentina.

As you can see from the picture, he wore one of those old wired hearing aids. He worked as a machinist in Philadelphia, but was placed in the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry at some point, suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease attributed to the Spanish influenza epidemic of the early 20th century.

I do remember that he primarily spoke Spanish, which means that there must be a compelling story of how he met his wife Mary Fox, my mom’s mom. She immigrated from England and worked as a nanny in Philadelphia, which is interesting because we were always told she was a governess, but census records tell a different story. Ancestry on her side only goes back as far as a lighthouse somewhere along the North Sea. (There are too many “Mary Foxes” from that time frame to know which branch of the tree to follow.) She came to America with two sisters, Peg and Elsie. I knew her much better, and will write about her in a future post.

Somehow that unlikely couple got together and had three daughters, but I’m not sure there is anyone left who knows that story. They raised their family in a row home on Rosalie Street in the Olney section of northeast Philadelphia.

Me with grandpa golcher

Here we are in NE Phila when I was 15 months old.

That’s all I’ve got on Grandpa Golcher. But I am pretty sure that my brother and sister and I all got our thick heads of hair from him.

 

Christmas ‘ites

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 1.36.13 PMMy grandson Elijah was spending the day with me while his mom was out shopping with my wife. One of our projects that day was putting up the Christmas tree. I just knew it would be a memorable moment when I plugged in the lights and he saw them for the first time. He’s been watching and waiting for Christmas “‘ites” for weeks. I was not disappointed. His delighted “Oh-Oh” still makes me laugh out loud.

What is it about Christmas ‘ites that excites and delights people of every age? We’ll stop to look at house with simple candles in the window as well as those covered with thousands of colored bulbs. We’ll go out of our way to drive by those homes that are lit up in creative ways. We’ll climb ladders, walk roofs and wrap trees to light up our homes and yards. We’ll got for walks at night, as dark lonely streets suddenly come to life with the rhythmic blinking of strings of lights. We’ll stop and pause, on foot or in our cars, just to gaze at a brightly lit home we never really noticed before. Unsightly strings hanging from eaves take on magical shapes and designs when darkness comes and all that can be seen is the light.

Just as a starry sky on a clear cool night reminds us of that night out side of Bethlehem lit up by a multitude of the heavenly host, perhaps a simple string of lights takes us back to that earthly moment of heavenly glory. And who wouldn’t like some of that as we pray and wait for the brightness of a new day in a world where there is far too much darkness.

Tasty

25894050020_ed7a6de247_zIt’s been an Elijah weekend. We’ve had our one-year-old grandson staying with us since yesterday afternoon.

When you are one, everything goes in your mouth. Food (of course). Toys. Sticks and dirt (I had him out in the backyard with me; please don’t tell his mom!) Suds (Yes, we gave him a bath.) Food. (Did I mention he likes loves to eat?) Grass. (The lawn is greening up nicely.)

As I watched him today, I thought of the Bible verse, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Wait a minute. Someone mixed up their senses. How much can you see with your tastebuds? I don’t know. But Elijah does. He sees, he tastes, and he learns about the world around him. Ingenious.

In the Bible, you can “taste” a lot of things. Manna (Exodus 16:31; yum!). God’s Word (Psalm 119:103). Your lover (Song of Solomon 2:3; <blush>). Death (Matthew 16:28). God’s goodness (1 Peter 2:3).

As grownups, we discount the sense of taste. “I heard…” “Do you know what I saw…” “Something smells fishy.” “I feel (fill in the blank).” But how often do we sum up our day with words that relate to taste?

Thanks, Elijah, for reminding me to reflect upon how today tasted. Sweet? Sour? Bitter? Delicious? Bland? Spicy? Complicated? Bold but not pretentious?

I hope my future posts appeal to your taste buds.