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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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No Matter Blood or Blended

Dan Dodge

As Christmas approaches, I think we all start to think about our blessings and the joy that our family brings to us.  We remember the holidays as warm and precious because we had those we loved around us.  From the gifts under the tree to the star on top, there was love.

My husband always tells me that I am the love of his life.  I value that sentiment and appreciate that he feels that way because I feel the same way about him.   But, after reliving those distant Christmas memories, I don’t think we are the love of each other’s lives–we are the gift of each other’s lives.  It is our children who are the loves of our life together.

I remember decorating our tree while we played Christmas carols.  Our daughter was the oldest and tallest, so she took care of the top of the tree.  The boys, several years younger, worked on the bottom.  Where she was sparse in her decorating, they were enthusiastic, putting several ornaments on the same branch.  And then, on Christmas morning, there was laughter, piles of wrapping paper squeezed into funny colored balls that missed the garbage bag and then, the inevitable Christmas “kids” photo.

Ours was not a blood family, but a blended one.  We had our own traditions and family ways when we all got together.  I often said that the definition of Christmas with a blended family was one wishbone and three children. But we made it work.  It took years of hard work, but it was worth it.

Dan Fogelberg recorded a song called, “The Leader of the Band,” in that song, a son sings about his aging father and says, “his gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand.”  And that’s how it was with us.  We had different parenting styles, different religions, different immediate family dynamics and vastly different levels of anger management skills.  I was a volcano of anger; he was a mountain of calm.

I often criticized my husband’s method of discipline as too soft.  “The world won’t love them like we do,” I would say.  “When they do something wrong, there has to be consequences.”

What I was missing was that to the children there were consequences.  He would explain what was wrong and what they needed to learn from their mistakes.  They listened to him talk, explain and encourage.  And that, more than harsh words, stuck with all of the children for the rest of their lives.

Together, we raised three wonderful people.  They are caring and giving, loving and warm.  They all married equally wonderful people and gave us the gift of the next generation.  There are times when their volcano of anger flares up, but it was mostly like an infrequent guizer; there and then gone.    I see my husband’s parenting style in the way they deal with their own children.  I see them sculpting souls in the same manner that he did—and I see their children responding.

Christmas is a time for family, no matter blood or blended.  It is a time of remembering the past with the person God gifted to you and looking forward to the future through the eyes of the next generation.  It is a time of peace and goodwill.  It is a time of love for those who dwell in our hearts no matter how close or how far away they might be.

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About the Contributor
Jan Morgan-Swegle is the Editor of Cape Fear Voices.  She has been writing for CFV for almost 3 years.  She is originally from the Cleveland area and moved down to Leland 12 years ago.  She and her husband, Tony, and their dog, Dixie, enjoy sitting on the lanai listening to music and sharing wine (Dixie likes white wine but only gets two finger tips full!!)  They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren living in Cleveland, Ohio,  Charlotte, North Carolina and Lakeland, Florida.