By Dr. Stanley Watson, Syndicated Columnist
The Picayune Item
Several years ago our youngest son, David, called us to announce that his Florida branch of the Watson clan was planning to celebrate Thanksgiving with us at the Spring Meadow farm. We were elated. This meant that we would be with David and Linda, their son Jason and his wife Heather with their little twin daughters, also their daughter Jill and her husband Tom and their two daughters, ages eight and five, for a total of twelve. This old farm house would come alive again with conversation, cooking, and the play of children.
To add to our pleasure Mark and Cheryl, daughter Amy and her husband, Casey Parsons, arrived with their little daughter and son. So, during the Thanksgiving holidays we were with five of our eight great granddaughters and our eighteen month old great grandson, Jack, whose energy and investigative skills are a thing to behold.
The test of a family is the way the members work together. I mention this because everything went great. Our guests insisted they wanted to do something useful for us but the house and grounds were in good condition so they moved out to the ceramic pouring shed and barn. These two buildings were jammed with years of discarded boxes, bags, worn out and useless stuff that needed to be trashed or recycled. But no longer; those buildings were soon organized and the trash gone.
In addition to a bountiful thanksgiving meal we enjoyed a variety of activities:
David and Tom trimmed back the limbs of the live oak tree that were touching the roof of the house. Jason hooked up the mower behind the old Long farm tractor and mowed wide paths in the weeds and bushes that had grown up since Katrina.
He also used the tractor to pull a flat bed trailer covered with hay and a crowd of laughing, singing children and parents for some honest-to-goodness country hay rides.
The children loved swinging in the tire swing that hangs under the big live oak tree in the south yard. They also played with two basketballs on the concrete half court in the north yard and eight year old Emma was able to put the ball through the 10 foot high goal with surprising accuracy. I noticed her skill when I joined her in shooting a few baskets. Someone bought a barbeque grill and we spent some very pleasant hours in the back yard visiting and eating burgers and hot dogs in the balmy weather we enjoyed while the kinfolks were here.
When they drove away to go home the rooms they had used were immaculate and our pantry and fridges bulged with more food than we were able to use for weeks to come. Naturally we urged them to come again- anytime. And as we watched them go out of sight I thought of Garrison Keeler's description of the good citizens of Lake Woebegone where "the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are all above average."
Sometime during the week I resolved to write a letter of advice, admonition and guidance for the great grandchildren to be given to each one when they enter junior high school.
The power points for my letter were:
Love your country — it was established by Christian patriots who gave every citizen the freedom to practice his or her religion or life style as long as it remains legal .
Get a good education — it will contribute much to your personal development, open doors of service, and provide a better life style. It will also influence your philosophy of life, so please read and live by the Scriptures.
Take care of your body — never abuse it with drugs or alcohol. Get plenty of exercise and sleep, eat right, and cultivate an optimistic outlook on life. Take care of your body when you are young and it will take care of you when you are old.
Honor, respect and love your God — let nothing, good or bad come between you and the God who made you, the Savior who redeemed you, and the Holy Spirit who guides and protects you.
Be sure that your soul is in good hands — by accepting the salvation that God provided by the life and death of Jesus Christ. When you do this he will keep your soul — the real you — now and for all eternity.
Plan carefully for your future family — Find a mate you truly respect; one who sincerely loves you and marry him or her. Then build a relationship of open communication, respect, and love. Be assured that the basic purpose of the family is to bring children into the world and raise them as persons of character and faith. The finest way to raise your children is to make your relationship with your spouse the most important human relationship in your life because it will surely become the foundation upon which your children will build their lives.
"Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children." Proverbs 17:6