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Right Off the Top of My Head
Holiday Treats
by Craig Richards   December 25, 2002

The other day while listening to the radio, I heard one of those delighfully simple yet profound quotes which FamousQuotes.com cites as an Amish proverb:
"We didn't inherit the land from our fathers.
We are borrowing it from our children.
"

Like our Earth, what we know about the people who came before us, their stories (our own histories) are an important legacy that we owe to our children, and theirs.

I'd like to remind you that as you gather your families together during these holidays and in the coming year, to take a moment to share something of your family history, however inconsequential it may seem, with the little ones in attendance. You'll be giving them a sense of their own roots and will integrate them more deeply into the fabric of their own lineage.

As the owner of FamilyReunion.com and the publisher of this FamilyReunion.com Connections newsletter, it has been my privilege to be of service to you, your family and friends this past year through the many free offerings available at our wildly popular website.

We are grateful you've made us part of your family gatherings for the past few years because we realize how very important it is to connect individual family members and entire branches of families! When it comes down to it, after family and friends, everything else in our existence is just "stuff," isn't it?

A gifted writer and a dear friend from Tennessee, Lisa Rowell kindly permitted me to share with you her true story about her family's unexpected discovery of hope and help during a particularly difficult Christmas. I've made it the lead story in this issue of Connections and when you read it you'll see why.

I hope you enjoy this issue of FamilyReunion.com "Connections." As always, your feedback is encouraged and welcome.

A thought or two right off the top of my head. We are very interested in your views and opinions.

Until next time we gather around the bright glow of your monitor, we extend to you our

warmest virtual regards,

return to the TOP Craig Richards, publisher
FamilyReunion.com




The Three Dollar Story

by Lisa Rowell, Dances In Creek

Lisa Rowell There is a certain heaviness that tends to settle on my heart toward the end of the year. Sometimes it is nothing more than the weight of a feather, not definable through any words. Perhaps it has to do with adding another number to my age at the end of each year – this year an eight beside the three. Maybe it is just a wondering of what exactly beats within my heart.

During the weeks before Christmas, we had some unforeseen setbacks. These kinds of things tend to roll into my life in waves then settle in. As each new disaster presented itself, it was becoming more difficult to really feel the spirit of the holiday season. I knew that my boys would be happy with the few gifts I was able to purchase for them (thanks to my family in Vermont), that we would be together, and that we would be eating well. As far as Christmases go, that is more than I could ever ask for.

Two days before Christmas, I could hear my landlord calling my name from the driveway. Santa had left a large box decorated with a big red bow on his front porch. It had our names on it. My eldest son retrieved the box, marveling that it had been left for us. We placed it beside our Christmas tree and just stared at it with dropped jaws. Proud does not begin to describe how I felt toward my eldest son as he looked in my eyes in all his wonder and said, "Mom, someone went through a lot of time and effort to do this." "Yes," I replied. "They certainly did." He took notice not considering what the contents of the box might be as much as how each item was so carefully and tenderly wrapped and labeled. All the while, my five-year-old simply felt as though he had witnessed a Christmas miracle.

The following day, my landlord was knocking at my door to inform me that our January rent had been paid. I could barely believe what I was hearing. Our January rent was paid! He insisted he did not know the source, nor did he know who had left the box for us the previous day. I could feel something tingling from deep within, telling me we were loved. Somewhere, someone knew that we were enduring life's little setbacks compounding like a rolling snowball all at once. Some marvelous Santa wanted to help ease that burden.

I knew that now I'd be able to take care of certain necessities this coming month. Some anonymous source (or sources) and my own far-away family had filled our hearts with thanks and hope.

My boys and I had a most memorable Christmas. My city-boy Jake did not seem to mind that the time he spent with us lacked a telephone line (not to mention the blown computer monitor and no internet), cable tv, his new girlfriend, and all his friends back in his city life. Although he does not care much for my simple lifestyle, I believe his visits here with us enrich him in ways that he may not fully understand until he is much older.

Driving through town on the day we were taking Jacob home, a man was preparing to cross the street. I stopped and waved to let him know I would wait for him to safely cross. The man's feet hit the pavement and, as he stepped onto the sidewalk, he waved back with an ear-to-ear smile. "People sure are nice here aren't they?" my son commented. "Yup, they certainly are honey," I said to him.

As we walked into the convenience store that early afternoon, something came over me to purchase three scratch-off lottery tickets. Being such a tightwad with my dollars, this is something I rarely ever do. I told the cashier that I felt lucky in the "miracle money" department. I handed Jacob a quarter and he began to scratch the tickets. I instructed him to trade in any winners less than $5 for additional tickets. "Come on baby, momma wants a new muffler."

"Rough times, huh?" The cashier seemed to have this calm understanding. He told me that he had lost his father the week before Christmas. THUD. My heart was suddenly in my throat. His father, a preacher, had lived with him. The man had cared for his dad throughout his illness. As he told the story, it was quite apparent that the man felt acceptance and nothing less than pure love in the loss that he had endured. My family is thousands of miles from us but we can still feel their hugs through the sounds of their voices. We are all still together if by nothing more than air waves. Another thing to be so thankful for.

We listened intently as Jacob scratched his tickets with fervor. As the man spoke, it was as though the preacher man himself were smiling upon us all, inspiring the words that so beautifully moved from his son's lips. I could almost see the memories rolling around in his head. The father had known his time was nearing and he had been peaceful at that thought. The serene look on his son's face, the gentle smile, and the manner in which he spoke about his father, interwoven with thoughts of our secret Santa and our family, sent chills from the back of my neck and down my spine. An answer I might not have heard had I not parted with three dollar bills on the countertop that day. It was like hearing the voices of a thousand angels singing a single note that lifted the infinite weight of that tiny feather from my heart. Something that powerful has no pricetag. It did not matter that the tickets were not winners.

That evening, I drove my children in our quieted vehicle sporting its new muffler, safe in the knowledge that our car was once again insured. Through the windshield, we could see the nearly full moon rising in the sky, with the orange setting of the sun visible in the rearview mirror. As we rode into the night, I was cradled with comforting thoughts of the three dollar story and the generosity shown by those who love us.

For all the troubles thrown our way in the past couple weeks, none of it mattered any more. I had found what I had secretly been seeking through the course of events this past week. Like signs there to remind me that sometimes what we seek is found within. With every beat of my aging heart, I am reminded that love flows through it. How else could it be felt if not for the capacity to hold it?

return to the TOP May the coming year bring you and yours countless blessings.

©2001 Lisa Rowell. All rights reserved worldwide.



Fun Puzzle:   The Name Game

Here is this month's free Name Game! Print out as many as you want and pass them around to your friends and family. The Name Game is our new twist on a familiar word puzzle. You search for words (from the list on the right) that are hidden in the letter grid. Look vertically, horizontally, diagonally and backward to find them all!
Play The Name Game
Order your Name Game!
Print your Name Game
Learn more about The Name Game
It's easy and fun to play The Name Game
This month's Name Game
View the answer keyClick here to view the answer key
View the answer keyClick here to order your Custom Name Game

Did you know you can get your own custom Name Game? We create your custom puzzle from words important to your family – and we even host your Name Game online at FamilyReunion.com FREE! Folks just load it in their browsers and print out as many as they want.

Point your browser to FamilyReunion.com/store and use the order form to compose your custom Name Game.

return to the TOP Your purchase of our exclusive Name Game puzzle helps support the efforts of FamilyReunion.com to help connect families around the world – We are grateful for your continued patronage and the opportunity to help you Make Fun of Your Reunion!



Family Reunion The Game

USAopoly Do you know how your grandparents met and fell in love? Can you recall your mother's uncle's middle name?

Family Reunion The Game™ is an exciting new boardgame that will inspire friends and family to recall memories, pass down traditions and reveal never-been-told stories and family secrets!
To make your family get-together an event to remember, USAopoly, creators and manufacturers of "America's favorite boardgames with a twist," has released a must-have product for real family fun – Family Reunion The Game, winner of The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval 2002.

Family Reunion The Game is a unique new boardgame experience from Richard C. Levy, whose most recent hits include games based upon Men Are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus and Chicken Soup For The Soul.

After realizing how little he knew about his maternal grandparents, Richard C. Levy was inspired to create Family Reunion The Game as an entertaining way for a family to share and pass along its oral history, tradition and cultural heritage. "It is exciting and rewarding for each successor generation to learn what makes its family special and every family is special," said Levy. "There's no telling what players might learn once people start spinning family stories."

Family Reunion The Game

Ages 8 to grandparent
2 to 6 players
Suggested retail price $29.95
Housed in a keepsake box that opens like a family photo album, Family Reunion The Game can be customized when players use their own photos in game play and trace their family history with the provided Family Tree illustration. Reproducible invitations allow friends and family to personalize each Family Reunion occasion.

Skeleton in the Closet, Snapshots, "You're not telling the whole story" and "Family Secret" cards provide lively competition allowing players to challenge stories and thwart opponents. The first player to collect one photo from each category, ("Traditions," "Magic Moments," "Happy Days" and "Hand Me Downs") wins. Losers tell all as the winner asks all players to reveal a family secret.

USAopoly Now available at boardgames.com/famreungam.html, What on Earth Catalog (800-945-2552), Plow & Heath Catalog (800-627-1712) and directly from USAOPOLY by calling toll-free 888-656-7306 or visiting their website at usaopoly.com.
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