Our quiet family days continue here in northern Virginia. My parents and sister came over to Elliott's family's house for dinner last night, since they live 10 minutes away from each other (!). It always amazes me to see two such different (and yet... so weirdly similar...) families gathered around the table, discussing and remembering and punning away.
Just before my family drove home, my father-in-law pulled a quote off their fridge to share with my dad. Soon all the parents were gathered around to listen, four graying heads who have raised nine children between them. The quote was:
But this at least all married people should know. They can do no better work and do nothing more valuable either for God, for Christendom, for all the world, for themselves, and for their children
than to bring up their children well.
Martin Luther in "A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage"
Our four parents have all done their very best to bring up their children well; they have dedicated the prime of their lives to raising multiple little lives. Now as Elliott and I start out in our own marriage and bring up our first child, we are constantly grateful for the influence and dedication of our own parents as they read aloud to us, ate dinner with us each night, made church a second home for us instead of just a family requirement, encouraged us to study and value the good and the beautiful, and most of all loved us through these first formative 25-30 years of our lives. Thank you so much, dear parents.
And now back to California. After feeding the horses that morning, we enjoyed a quiet afternoon to ourselves at the ranch, napping and recharging for more activities that afternoon and evening.
After a peaceful morning at the ranch, we headed into the nearby town of Solvang to do some window shopping. This cute little town is entirely Danish and looks like it could have come out of a touristy neighborhood of Copenhagen. And the toy shops! We had so much fun rediscovering favorite from our childhoods and imagining Lena playing with some of them in a few years. Elliott discovered several different Playmobile versions of veterinary clinics. The one he's holding here is the smallest clinic available; there's also a gigantic one that Lena might get lost in at this point.
Later that evening we enjoyed another meal with the combined family at the ranch house. Even got a family photo, sorta.
And then, of course, another hard-fought Settlers of Catan game later that night. The lovely blonde on the right, Deborah, won for the very first time!
The next morning we helped feed the horses again.
Well, okay, maybe we just took photos and watched our hosts feed the horses. :-P
Lena's sporting an awesome pair of wool pants that Elliott and I found at a kid's consignment shop the day before. So fabulously funky.
And then, as usual, retired to the fireplace for some quiet moments in the afternoon.
One of our favorite things we did while at the ranch was go out for my birthday dinner to The Hitching Post. We'd eaten there on our honeymoon and I had been dreaming of their grilled artichoke appetizer ever since. Our second meal did not disappoint, from the aforementioned artichoke to the filet mignon to the baked potato to the key lime pie dessert with a single glowing candle. Thank you, sweet hubby.
Going to California was a little bit of a last-minute decision for us. Should we use these reward miles, should we drag our baby through multiple airports and 6am flight departures, should we use our last weekend in San Antonio to travel somewhere else instead? And we said yes, in the end, because we love the people we went to visit. We greatly value and are deeply blessed by their friendship. I am so thankful we did, too, in retrospect, because our friendship was strengthened to endure another few years (?) of separation before we see them again.
Maintaining friendship in adulthood takes sacrifices, for sure, and often the sacrifices are mutual. We aren't in college anymore; we don't live within a 15-minute radius of our best friends. We have to deliberately choose friendships over ourselves. But the rewards are so great. I am blessed by a husband who has five or so close guy friends and makes an effort to call them or see them every few months. (Do you do that? It's not as easy as it sounds... and keeping up with or seeing five far-apart people actually takes a lot of time every couple months!) I'm not as good about calling my friends, as they will assure you; they often do the pursuing of me. Yet I see the example that Elliott has set for me and the choices he's made, and I also want to be a pursuer, an enduring friend. I see the incredible value of holding a few precious people (and their precious, growing families) close to your heart.
What do you think? How do you maintain and pursue your friendships?