Making Memories with Family Traditions

Some time ago I promised to share more about last summer’s trip to Innisfail, Alberta. As always when we are with our Wislen and Shaw cousins, the trip was not so much about the travel but about sharing experience as family. While we were visiting cousins Vicki and Allen, a friend brought them  fresh peaches and other fruits that don’t grow on the plains of central Alberta. The fruit was ripe and wouldn’t wait, so we had a canning party!

Hank’s job: peeling peaches
Vicki and daughter Katrina starting the kitchen prep

Barbara and Hank trying to keep up with the kitchen crew

Katrina and her mom celebrate the results of our work with pictures

A tradition when our Canadian family gets together is the evening hymn sing. William is the chief pianist and the rest of us choose the songs. He’s adept at adding fun flourishes to the good old hymns. The beautiful voices blend and harmonize. The television in the corner is mainly used for DVD’s. Who needs tv when you can make your own music?

 Another tradition beloved by the younger folk is the “Root Beer Tasting.” It’s similar to a wine tasting, with overtones of spoofing. Cousin Bill brings the root beer from a Washington state specialty store which sells dozens of varieties of the drink. The objective is to evaluate the different kinds Bill has picked out and decide which are the favorites.

William gets in the mood with a fake mustache, plus extras for eyebrows.

Clarissa, Troy, and Katrina wait to get started.

This takes thought….

and serious consideration!
Too much root beer!

 My favorite part of last summer’s trip was not the beautiful scenery or the places we visited, memorable as all that was. It was being part of a multigenerational family, sharing their faith and their creative goings on. Thanks, Vicki and Allen and all of your family members, for including us!

A Love Affair with Arizona

A desert sunrise
In the Saguaro National Monument

When I was young, the gorgeous desert and canyon photographs in Arizona Highways magazine enticed me. I was also fascinated by the lovely art of the indigenous peoples of the desert. If only I could leave behind the drab, wet Northwest winters to experience for myself the light and warmth of exotic Arizona!

God loves to give his children the desires of their hearts. When we’re young, we may find that hard to believe. Sometimes we want things badly. Not getting them leads to disappointment. We don’t realize that what we want may be bad for us, or that we must learn to wait for what we want.  Sometimes, getting what we think we want turns into disillusionment.  But often, God delights us by eventually giving us what we desire, and more.

An opportunity to fulfill my desert wish came after I had graduated from college and taught school for four years in Washington State. I sent resumes to various Southwest cities, eager to experience life in the land I dreamed about. My sister and I set out for Arizona, stopping for an interview in California. There I learned that, due to a misunderstanding, I had not been released from my previous job.

Major disappointment!  We turned around and drove back to Washington, never even seeing Arizona, and I went back to my former position. A few weeks after school started, I met Bob Biggar, a young man from Alaska. Six months later, we married. We moved to Alaska. I’d never thought of living there, but I loved it. While we raised our family, I started a writing career, and we made lifelong friends. (More heart’s desires fulfilled!)

When my husband’s health began to fail, doctors told him he needed a warmer climate. We returned to Washington, and one winter we decided to take our travel trailer to Arizona. We enjoyed a month of exploring fascinating places while I did research for a young adult book set in Arizona. Then our insurance company cancelled our auto coverage. The only way to resolve the problem was to return to Washington. I did finish my research, though I still wanted to experience more of the Grand Canyon State.

A while later, Bob died. After six years, I married Hank (a good gift from God which is another story.) My daughter, Lenora, received her heart’s desire when she married Steve.  Then she and Steve moved from Seattle to live in Arizona year-round.

I missed Lenora terribly, but now we had an excuse to travel to Arizona every winter. This year we’ve rented a vacation apartment, and we’re staying a month. I’ve come to realize through my daughter’s experience that I’m wimpy about hot weather. I really don’t want to live here year around. But God has given me the chance to enjoy the desert and its denizens up close and personal during the best time of year, and also to spend time with loved ones. All because God knows our heart’s desires and he loves to fulfill them.

Lenora, Steve and Bella with Hank, after an evening walk in the desert