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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

September 08, 2010.

Gerald and Helen Homecoming 2010

Part I

The Gerald and Helen Homecoming is the highlight of my year! Watching my children and grandchildren hugging, laughing, sharing, playing and eating together thrills my heart. I even loved looking at my grandchildren's feet. I think I have more fun than anyone else at Homescoming! I just cherish each precious moment.

My granddaughter Kelsey's (our daughter Laura's girl) beautiful feet!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August 14, 2010.
Kelsey's sweet feet!

The older I get the more dear these family times are to me. I feel the swiftness of time rather poignantly these days --- I'm not getting any younger. Our dear Rachel turned sixteen in August. As we gave her a bouquet of beautiful red roses to celebrate the day, I thought of all the joy she has given us these past 16 years. That made me cry. Then I thought --- how can it be --- that this was our last daughter to be sweet sixteen. And that made me cry even more. All the photos taken of me that day show tears in my eyes. I am so grateful Rachel is such a "sweet" sixteen and that God gave her to us. I cannot begin to imagine her not being part of my life.

Rachel Eloise Aardsma --- her first and only "Sweet Sixteen!"
Photo by 'Beka Aardsma, August , 2010.
Rache, Sweet Sixteen!

A few days after Rachel's birthday, I cried my way through our seventh child (Rebekah Jean) leaving home to attend university in another state. My heart had been heavy the previous weeks, dreading that parting. How can it possibly be that Rebekah is now 18 and on her way to her own life? Where have the years gone? How can I be getting grey and having arthritis already? I feel like I'm still 18, but I get a severe jolt when I look in the mirror!

I would wake up in the night crying, thinking of all the wonderful times 'Beka and I had together, the love we shared, the honor and respect she showed us as parents, the sacrifices she made for the family, the talents she shared, the hours of walks, talks, shopping, and just plain living in constant close contact. Words cannot begin to convey how much I miss her! We think of her all the time. We pray for her and ask God to bless her and keep her in His care.

How we miss our dear "Beka"!
Photo by Rachel Aardsma, August , 2010.
Rebekah Jean Aardsma.

I guess I'm rambling a bit. I might as well ramble some more. Family times are beautiful. I'm glad to have had 10 children. I'm glad to be the matriarch of this clan. I'm glad for 11 grandchildren. Every time one of my grandchildren calls me "Grandma" I thrill to hear it! I'm glad for hugs that say, "I love you Grandma!". I'm glad for all the birthday parties, the Christmases, the crowded family meal times, even the laundry piles (for no laundry means no kids, no smiles, no kisses, and no dandelion bouquets) --- all moments to be cherished and remembered with fondness and joy.

Back to the homecoming. I guess it is hard to put into words what it means to a mother to have as many of her dearest ones as possible gathered together in one place for a nice, long, full day of creating happy family memories! There is something very special about it all that I know you moms understand.

We have been having family reunions since 2006. Experience is a good teacher and every year I learn a little more about how to make it better! I keep an ongoing list of things to change, things to try and a list of traditions that we never want to change.

I love organizing events. Some think I should take on co-ordinating events as a career, but it has no appeal to me. What I do is all motivated by love --- no amount of money would be worth it if I weren't planning and organizing for those near and dear to me.

All year long I think and plan our Homecoming. I make numerous lists (great in Excel!) for food, games, decor, agendas, prizes, etc. As I shop the thrift stores and garage sales I'm watching for good deals on prizes for our various activities, decorating items, Holland and French collectibles, games for the children, etc.

I decided this year that it would be fun to start having annual themes for our Homecomings. I chose an Americana theme for 2010. I never noticed how much stuff there is in the thrift stores with the good old red, white and blue! Darling teddy bears, candle holders, placemats, even curtains. I got so many deals on decor that I even transformed my living room with some of the decorations: flags, bears, candle holders, even the curtains, all in the popular theme of Americana. I had so much fun with it! I requested that attendees to the homecoming wear red, white or blue t-shirts, blouses or shirts. It created a nice ambiance, and worked well for our annual family photo shoot!

I love to decorate, and had a great excuse to do so for our Homecoming!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
America, the beautiful!

One of the hurdles that we needed help with for Homecoming this year was what to do if it rained or was a hot, sunny day. Our house is not large, and things like hayrides are just not the same indoors! We looked into renting a large tent, but my --- they are really expensive, close to $1000. That would clean out my reunion budget in a hurry! I noticed one day on my way to the library that the American Legion had a big tent set up. My mind jumped into high gear. I hopped out of my van (I stopped it first) and approached the guys working on the tent. Do you own it? Great! Do you rent this tent out? Great! How much! $100! Fantastic! We want to reserve it, now, this minute! Amazing how God provides our needs before we even ask. You might want to check your local Lions Club or American Legion should you need a tent for an outdoor wedding or other family event. They rent them out as a community service, not to make money, though they do charge a small fee, but they also come and set it up and take it down for you. Amazing! And what a great crew they were. And to think I can rent it every year for our homecoming! I love our little town and the great folks that live in it.

The tent fit my circus mood, to be sure!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
We were all set if it rained.

This tent was 60 ft x 40 ft. It fit just perfectly in our garden. We had taken out one section of strawberries (we take out one section of old strawberries every year, replacing it with new plants in another part of the garden) and planted annual rye grass in its place so we could have a nice, flat, grassy spot for the Homecoming. The Homecoming day turned out to be very hot, so it was great to have a place to play our games in the shade.

To be continued......


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