There are quite a few grandparenting books on the market these days. Most of them focus on the journey the grandparent makes and what it’s like becoming a grandparent. There are a few that focus on the grandparent relationship with the grandchildren, their interactions, the activities they do together, and how to strengthen their relationships. Some of these books are written with the grandmother’s perspective, some with the grandfather’s perspective, others give both sides of the equation. I’ve read a fair few of these books, all kinds. They all have their positives and give insights on this new status we’ve entered into, of grandparent. I’m sure many grandparents can benefit from each of these books. I think for most grandparents we sort of fall into the role of grandparent with lots of excitement, willingness to help, and without much difficulties. I know there can be problems for some with decerning this new title and what it entails, but for most we get it and willingly take on the new name of Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Mimi, Gramps, Paw-paw, Maw-maw, or whatever else our dear little people want to call us.
The book I’ve been writing isn’t really the kind of grandparent book that explores the problems of figuring out how to be a grandparent. The quandary I focus on in my book is building relationships with our grandchildren, even if they live far away. The book has lots of simple activities that can be done via video chat between grandparents and grandchildren. Yeah, I suppose I put my teacher’s hat on a bit, I do give lots of helps on creating the activities. In my book I provide fun and well tested stories, games for the grandparent to make, and other guides to help in not just building and strengthening your relationships with your grandchildren, but having the kind of fun that produces laughter, joy, and wonderful memories. I have thoroughly field tested all the stories, games, and activities with my own grandchildren. They get wonderfully excited when they hear that Grandma’s on video chat. I love that! Over the past few years, we have built a relationship that I hope will get us through their teenage years and far beyond. I may not live close, I may not get to spend the time I would absolutely love to spend with them, but creating and sharing these activities with them over video chat helps me as a grandmother, and has created a real relationship with each of my grandchildren. They know me, and I know them. It hasn’t always been easy, living this far away, but I do my best to make sure they know Grandma loves them.
This isn’t a new problem, but it’s a problem we all face in our world today. We want to spend time with our grandchildren, even if we can’t be there in person. I think I’ve found some solutions in my book that I hope to share with everyone soonish. Until then, if you’d like to read some of the books I’ve read about grandparenting I provide a list below. I also found a pretty good article from the New York Times that is a bit informative.
Article from the New York Times:
Title – This Was Not on My Bucket List!: Navigating “Old School” Grandparenting in a “Newfangled” World
Author name – Linda Macconnachie
This book is great fun. It uses a lot of humor to compare the author’s childhood experiences with her parents and grandparents and the experiences she had with raising her own children, to the experiences she had with her grandchildren. She does mention long distance grandparenting, briefly. While there are some commonalities with my book, humor, relationship building, spending quality time with grandchildren and so forth. My book focuses on long distance grandparenting and many activities that can be done to build the relationships with the long distance grandchildren.
Title – Grandmothering: The Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life
Author name – Linda Eyre
This book has lots of in person ideas to do with grandchildren. The author calls them “Grammie Camps” where they play games, sing songs, and memorize special verses. She shares lots of things she did with her grandchildren and reminisces about different aspects of being a grandmother, which is great, but doesn’t get into any long distance relationship building. In my book the relationships are built as the grandparents learn to play, and share their experiences with their grandchildren. It focuses on being present with your grandchildren in a long distance way. My book doesn’t focus on me, it focuses on helping other grandparents find their way as long distance grandparents.
Title – The Modern Grandparent’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to the New Rules of Grandparenting
Author name – Dr. Georgia Witkin
This book gives lots of statistics and polls on the different aspects of being a grandparent and dealing with the different rolls a grandparent encounters. These rolls include, the other set of grandparents, son in laws, daughter in laws and so forth. It focuses on the grandparent side of things and taking care of yourself. It gives lots of advice to the grandparent. It does have a little about activities with grandchildren, but mostly what you can do with older grandchildren.
My book doesn’t give one poll or statistic, or really even give advice on grandparents dealing with situations with other grandparents, or other in-laws. My book does give some encouragement to the grandparent and learning how to grandparent in a new way. It tells about some of the changes that have happened over the years, and how living far apart has become the new norm for a lot of grandparents. My book helps the grandparent reach their grandchildren in a way that will build strong and lasting relationships, relationships that will be remembered for a very long time.
Title – Grandparenting on Purpose: Fresh Ideas, Activities, and Traditions for Connecting with Grandchildren Near and Far
Author name – M. Winston Egan, Linda Egan
In this book the authors tell about many of their own interactions with their grandchildren. They relate stories of attending sporting events, dinners, phone calls, and even postcards, they’ve used to build relationships with their grandchildren, who all live nearby. They even give some recipes at the end of the book of favorite things they’ve shared with their grandchildren. They present a very close and caring relationship with each other, their grown children, and grandchildren of all ages, including great-grandchildren.
My book helps grandparents who live far away find ways to enjoy special times with their grandchildren, through video chatting. Long distance grandparenting takes a bit more work, but I believe we can create those close, caring relationships from afar.
Title – Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today
Author name – Jane Isay
This book focuses on the psychology of grandparenting. The author gives lots of practical advice on how grandparents can grow relationships with their grandchildren and their children. She encourages grandparents to share stories from family history and their own lives to help build relationships. She encourages them to become free from whatever parenting regrets they have by becoming caring, understanding grandparents.
In my book I do encourage grandparents to build strong relationships with their grandchildren by the play and interaction that is created for them in each activity.
Title – Championship Grandfathering: How to Build a Winning Legacy
Author name – Carey Casey
This author quotes a lot of research to support what he’s presenting in this book. He gives a lot of advice and encouragement to fathers and grandfathers to be involved in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. The author even gives a formula to use, along with his encouragement to “enter the grandchild’s world”.
In my book I support entering the grandchild’s world through video chat play time. This helps the grandparent build strong relationships with their grandchildren. Each video chat playtime activity in my book, is structured in a way that engages the grandparents and grandchildren, not just in play time, but in relationship building as well. These activities can bring them all closer together and as the children grow older, their relationships will grow stronger.
We live in a time of virtual, almost everything, including relationships. Things have changed, so much, from those far away days when you could just go visit your grandchildren and experience that wonderful relationship that happens, between grandparents and grandchildren. Long-distance grandparents face a huge challenge with grandparenting in this virtual world. One main challenge is that with young grandchildren, you need to come up with a strategy to interact with them. This interaction has to be fun and engaging for the grandchildren, or they will simply get bored, frustrated, or completely tune you out.
As grandparents the responsibility is ours to build relationships with our grandchildren. If it doesn’t happen, it’s on us. Relationships need to begin when our grandchildren are young, so that we can build that relationship stronger as they get older. We need to find ways to help that relationship grow as they grow.
A 2019 AARP national survey concluded that over half the grandparents at that time were 200 or more miles away from at least one grandchild. They also concluded that grandparents are looking for ways to stay connected with their grandchildren.
Several years ago, I pondered this long-distance grandparenting dilemma. How could I build a good strong relationship with my grandchildren who lived over two thousand miles away? It’s not like I could call them, text them, or go see them on a regular basis. They were, and are still very young. So, how do you build a relationship with very young people when you are so far away?
It took me a while, but I came up with a solution that worked for me and my grandchildren. The solution involved me putting myself to the task of creating a way to play with them, online. Not video games, but grandma games. I spent a lot of time developing games, these games turned into stories, which evolved into full blown activities. I integrated scavenger hunts, little kid mysteries, and even a grandma imaginary friend into these activities.
Just like all grandchildren are individual, so are grandparents. We have to find what works for us individually, and what will work for our grandchildren. As they grow, we have to grow too. With very small grandchildren through toddlerdom, we can watch them, read them stories, cheer them on as they learn new things, all on video chat. This type of interaction is great for that age children, but when they begin to talk, reason, and move beyond the toddler situation, what then? Watching them, or reading them a story just isn’t enough anymore. Play! We have to learn to play. Grandparents in essence need to tap into their inner child. Think back on the games you used to play when you were a kid. Which were your favorites? Use that. Kids love to play, they love to learn new games, especially the ones where you have to use your imagination. Did you play cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, tea party, or dress up? Teach them how, then play together over video chat.
Always remember to play to your strengths! Do what you do well, and then do it some more. Your grandchildren will love it, and your relationship will grow by leaps and bounds.
For some fun and games that I’ve created visit – https://www.julieworthington.com/portfolio/long-distance-grandparenting/
Patty David, B. N.-K. (2019, April 1). AARP Grandparents Study. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2019/aarp-grandparenting-study.html.
My grandmother used to warn me about having too many irons in the fire. I do love to stay busy… I’ve been writing! I’ve been writing the next New Parish book, the next Brigham Tea Magazine, and another project I’ve been working on for almost two years now, The Grandparent’s Field Guide to Long Distance Grandparenting.
The next New Parish book, Home in New Parish, is about three fourths done. It offers a completely different side of the romantic comedy that always happens in New Parish.
The next Brigham Tea Magazine is full of so much rich history of the west, beautiful new pictures of the wild and wooly west, and even a buffalo hunt. The buffalo hunt was with cameras only, of course.
The Grandparent’s Field Guide to Long Distance Grandparenting has been a labor of love. It’s full of stories and games that I created for my own grandchildren, to share with other grandparents who might not live very near their little ones. Or even if they live near, they could still use this fun and engaging book.
So as for my grandmother’s warning, I don’t think I have too many, irons in the fire… I think there’s just the right amount to keep me busy and out of trouble. I can’t wait to share it all with everyone!
A new character is surfacing in the New Parish series. Her name is Amelia James. She has a unique job, she’s an advice columnist. Here’s some of her work:
Excerpts from Amelia’s Answers:
I’m completely spent! I have no energy anymore. I’m the mother of six children, ages 2-12. I work at my job all day, then come home to work all evening, cooking, cleaning, checking homework, and doing endless amounts of laundry. The kids help where they can, my husband works and has a good job, but is away a lot of the time. I feel I’m simply overwhelmed with it all.
My mother told me I should have a sister wife by now. But, my husband is reluctant, he’s worried about jealousies and other problems.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I need one soon. I think I’m pregnant again…
Thanks in advance for your help.
Spent single wife in New Parish
So sorry to hear that things are difficult for you at this time.
It’s good that you’re enlisting the children to help with the chores, just make sure you don’t overwhelm them with what’s overwhelming you.
A sister wife would be helpful in your situation, but she’s not a servant, or even a solution to a problem.
Have you tried organizing things, tasks, and the endless laundry? I find that organizing things always helps with everything. Start with lists, lists of the things you have to do each day, lists of things the kids can help with, and lists of what can be done before you go to work and things that have to be done after. Also, you might enlist help from family if they have time to come over and help on certain projects. Give it some thought, I’m sure you’ll find someone to help out.
The old saying, “You’re stronger than you think,” is true. You can do this, you simply have to take it in increments. “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch,” is another saying that’s true. Make this big thing, that’s overwhelming you, smaller by chopping it into manageable lists that can be done with ease.
Hope this helps, and congratulations on your maybe pregnancy.
I hate to even bring this up… but, it’s killing me. I’ve been trying to deal with it for a while now and haven’t figured out how to, yet.
I’m the second wife. My husband’s first wife was so wonderful and welcoming to me and we became the best of friends right away. We really didn’t have any problems at all. She was, and is wonderful!
So, when my husband married again, for the third time, I thought things would be wonderful too.
His new wife is really nice, and I like her a lot, really.
The problem that’s killing me is, that I’m so jealous I can’t stand myself. I know that’s what this feeling is, I’ve tried to deny it, but there’s no way to do that anymore. My husband’s new wife is so sweet, kind, and just lovely. I hate myself for feeling this way! I’m always looking for faults, or flaws in her. This isn’t me, or the me I want to become.
Can you please help me? I don’t want to be that person…
Not that person, really…
It really sounds like you have diagnosed the problem very well. Jealousy is a very difficult problem to deal with. The complicated part is that you have to learn to love and care about the person you’re not wanting to like. You have to let go of the resentment, fault finding, and bitterness. Sounds simple right? NOT!
To not be that person, maybe you could try taking little steps. Take the new wife out to lunch, make her a special lunch at home, or make her some cupcakes. You might try to find some things in common with her, like hobbies, or books, or history. Maybe get, or make her a gift, a sort of welcome to the family gift. A small act of service can sometimes go a long way in overcoming negative feelings.
Also take the time you need to adjust to the new situation. Different people accept, or adjust to things in different ways, and in different times. Try slowing things down, don’t rush into this new relationship thinking it should be something like what you have with your other sister wife. Take the time you need. Do something nice for yourself too. Don’t justify your bad thoughts about the new wife, but don’t beat yourself up over it either. It’s simply something new you have to deal with.
Overcoming ourselves is one of the most difficult things we have to do in this life. Too many people think things should be a certain way and never realize they could be another. Consider the platypus. Is it a duck or a beaver? Neither, and both, maybe… You’re not your sister wife, or the new wife, you’re you. Your relationship with the new wife will become what it will become. Remember to walk through your life with kindness, for others, and yourself.
Christmas has always been a very special, magical, and wonderful time for me. So, of course, I have to include it in all my New Parish books. When Hannah goes to New Parish, it’s just before Christmas, she discovers what Christmas is like in New Parish, their traditions, and some amazing activities.
So, get comfortable, snuggle in with some hot chocolate, and savor some moments from Hannah’s first Christmas in New Parish…
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 4 – Mr. James’ Home
“… Upon entering the kitchen, Hannah witnessed organized chaos, there were kids everywhere, adults that were mostly dressed, and food in various stages of preparation. Sarah still had on her pj’s looking as if she was prepared to leave the area quickly, Myra was barefoot and had a towel wrapped around her head. Del had all her clothes on but was still very disheveled, with her long dark hair loose and in her sock feet. Max was sitting at the dining room table, pulling on his boots and smiled at her as she entered.
“How can I help?” she held back the laughter that was bubbling up because of the scene before her. She was quickly put to work. Leah, and the older boys helped her finish breakfast duty. Sarah, Del, and Myra quickly evacuated the kitchen, Max grabbed an already prepared croissant sandwich, which was loaded with egg, cheese, and bacon before leaving the area.
Hannah thoroughly enjoyed the in-charge moment and made sure all the kids got their fill of breakfast, then moved into cleanup mode. By the time the others were returning all the dishes and clean up were done.
“Okay,” Del announced, “Max is pulling the van around front.”
“… Hannah chuckled and said, “Hi,” awkwardly, she’d never been a huggy type person, but Sarah had warned her that it could happen. Myra, who hugged everyone all the time, had insured she was ready for these situations.
She relaxed a bit after she scanned the area and saw no sign of the old cowboy. Cilla took her hand and said, “I need you to help us with the decorations, we have the Fancy Room, to get done today, the girls have already started, well, they have been in there for a few moments.”
“Okay,” Hannah smiled thinking, “I can do decorations.”
Sarah gave her a look of encouragement and quickly squeezed her hand before she and Cilla went through the huge double doors into one of the largest rooms she’d ever seen in a house. “It’s ginormous,” she thought to herself in amazement.
Cilla gave her the tour along with the game plan of what they had to do. “We’re going to decorate that bay window, the boys will bring in the decorations in a jiffy,” she pointed to the wall on the left of where they were standing. The window was almost the length of the wall which stretched to the very ample French doors on the other end of the room. “This wall is where they’ll set up the tree and the tables and such.” Cilla pointed to the other wall which had a mural painted on it depicting prairies and mesas and mirrored the beautiful desert area she was becoming intrigued with. There was a huge Navajo rug, portraying an ancient Navajo village, hanging in the middle of the mural and two smaller Navajo rugs hanging on either side.
Hannah stood there not knowing what to say, the room was so amazing and unexpected, that it had caught her completely off guard. She finally got out, “Wow,” as she slowly shook her head.
Cilla laughed, “Yeah, it’s really something. I suppose I’ve gotten so used to it till I forget to appreciate the beauty. That big rug was given to Alex as a gift when he was a young man, by the Navajo people he was working with out on the reservation. The smaller ones he bought because they show the different plants the Navajo use to dye the threads. The big one actually has him woven into it.” Cilla walked over to the rug and pointed to a figure on it, “That’s him,” she turned to Hannah and smiled. “They really liked him so they included him in the village scene. They said that way he would always be with them and they with him, in spirit.”
Hannah smiled, still amazed, “Well, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Cilla smiled and shrugged, “It’s been here longer than I’ve been here. Okay, let me introduce you to the girls.”
Hannah followed Cilla over to the bay window where the girls were sitting. She’d noticed them sitting there when she entered the room and smiled at them. She’d never been an introduce yourself kind of person. Hanging back and watching how things unfold was her thing, she’d analyzed herself on this, many times, but this time, it was just an automatic thing.
“This is Sophia, Isabella, and Cassandra, but we call them Sophie, Bella, and Cassie. I just like to say their real names every now and then.” Cilla introduced the girls who in turn smiled brightly and said, “Hi.”
Hannah returned the smiles and their greetings, noticing that the girls shared many of the same features, “One could definitely tell they are sisters,” she thought. They each had long dark brown hair, milky white skin, and somewhat familiar blue eyes. Sophie had her hair parted on the side and hanging loose, it reached almost to the bench she was sitting on. Bella had her hair pulled back into a ponytail which Cassie had emulated. Bella was almost the same size as Sophie but Cassie was much smaller.
“Mommy! I have a box of stuff!” a voice came from behind a box that had walked into the room.
Cilla laughed again, “Okay, Papi, put it over at the window please.”
Hannah laughed as the box headed toward the window, “So I guess there’s a small person behind that box?” she mused.
“Yes,” Cilla smiled at her. “Liam, say hello to the nice lady,” she told the now present boy who had sat the box on the floor in front of the window.
“Hi!” he said brightly cocking his head slightly to the side as though he was sizing her up. He had thick black hair that was cut short and parted neatly on the side, it contrasted greatly with his pale milky skin. His blue eyes smiled warmly all on their own. He was thin and looked as though he were about to grow too tall for his denim pants.
All in all, Hannah thought he looked the picture of a miniature cowboy, “Hello,” she returned, trying to suppress the laughter that almost escaped as she watched the small boy. “Are you sure you should be carrying a box that big?”
“I can do it,” Liam said with confidence, “I can handle the big jobs just like my Dad.”
Hannah laughed now, she couldn’t help it, “So who’s your dad?” she asked, wondering where this enchanting little boy came from.
“My dad is Alex James,” Liam said. “He built this ranch with his bare hands.” He held out his hands to give expression to what he was saying, which made Hannah think of Peter Pan.
The cogs in Hannah’s brain started to turn, he had called Cilla “Mommy” he was her son, so of course, he was Alex James’ son. Why hadn’t she put that two and two together? She wondered as she stood there looking at this incredibly adorable boy, who she now recognized as looking a lot like, his dad.
“Okay, Papi, go get some more decorations to bring in please,” Cilla chuckled at him.
“Yes, ma’am,” he smiled and ran out of the room.
“He’s so cute,” Hannah chuckled.
“We like him okay,” Cilla said, with some pride in her voice, then continued with the tour. “This is where the outside or overflow will be,” she led Hannah down to the other end of the room and out the double French doors. There was a beautiful rose garden which had desert landscape, flowers and plants dispersed throughout it, just off the deck.
“Wow! I love roses. What colors do you have out there?” Hannah couldn’t help the question, horses and roses had always been weaknesses for her.
“I don’t know really,” Cilla admitted, “there must be about every color and some are mixed colors. You’d have to ask Patty, this rose garden is her baby, well she used to work in it all the time, but lately she’s been having the girls help her because of her arthritis.”
“It’s lovely,” Hannah smiled.
Cilla chuckled and said, “Patty will love to tell you all about it – she’s really easy to talk to. So anyways, the guys will be bringing the space heaters and placing them out here so that the guests won’t get too cold and they’ll do most of the outside decorating so we won’t have to worry about that.”
A loud shout of, “Mommy!” came from inside the “fancy room” and they both ran inside to see what had happened.
“What Papi?” Cilla asked with concern in her voice.
Liam leaned around the box he was carrying, smiled a very innocent smile and asked, “Do you want this one by the window too?”
Cilla sighed in exasperation, “Yes, Papi,” she said, sounding a bit annoyed.
Hannah did the fake cough to cover the laughter that tried to escape, “This boy is so cute,” she thought to herself.
Cilla shook her head and smiled at Hannah, “I blame his father, that man is the biggest tease in the world. And if he knows he can get to you, well, nothing entertains him more.” She fanned the air in front of her as if to wave the tease out of the air and said, “So let’s get started over here.””
Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on Amazon.com at the link below:
Thanksgiving is always steeped in tradition. Each family has their own traditions, such as what food is cooked and how it is cooked, activities that are a must for the day, and of course as much family and friends included as possible. It’s really all about love, relationships – and sharing the work!
In this next part of Hannah’s family’s Thanksgiving in New Parish you’ll learn some more about some of their traditions.
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 13 – Let’s Talk
“The next morning’s early start was the usual, Hannah and Sarah making their Grandmother’s cinnamon rolls, as per tradition. This time was a bit different, though. The big house kitchen made it easy to navigate, and of course Sarah had Parley with her.
Parley seemed very interested in what they were doing, Hannah dipped her finger in the icing just a bit, and gave him a taste. He got very excited and very animated with both his hands and feet moving rapidly. Sarah gave her a serious scowl.
She shrugged and winked at Parley, “Who’s your favorite auntie?”
He let her know his feelings with a big smile.
It didn’t take long for everyone to arrive on the scene and begin the traditional eating of the cinnamon rolls and meal prep in synchronicity. Hannah noticed her mom looking around often as they worked through the morning.
She began to feel a little uneasy thinking maybe she’d forgotten something important, so she asked, “Is something missing? What are you looking for? Maybe I can help find it?”
“I’m not looking for anything,” Samantha deigned.
“It’s just that, I see you looking around like you’re looking for something,” Hannah explained, feeling confused.
Samantha waved her hand in front of her as if to clear something away and went on with the food prep.
Sarah chuckled from behind Hannah and she turned to see what Sarah was laughing about. “She’s looking for Uncle Alex,” Sarah accused her mother.
“I most certainly am not!” Samantha defended herself, but couldn’t hide the guilty look.
“Oh,” Hannah sighed, catching on, “He’s not here. If, you were looking for him, he’s out till this afternoon.”
“Looking for another wife, I suppose,” Samantha scathingly accused.
“Ha!” Hannah returned. “He wasn’t looking when he got me, so I doubt it. He took Buck and some of the guys over to help out a fellow who’s had some hard times. You know, do some home repairs, mend fences, stock the pantry, stuff like that.”
“Mmm,” Samantha shrugged, “I’m still bewildered as to why you would marry a man old enough to be your grandfather. Even if things were perfect, and he’s not, you’d still not have very many years together,” Samantha sighed in frustration.
“She has a point,” Brenda shrugged. “With Sarah and Max the age difference isn’t that much. But Hannah, really, your guy is substantially older.”
Hannah’s thoughts went instantly to her friend at BYU, “Yeah, there’s an age difference, but it doesn’t matter to me. I think he’s awesome and amazing. Besides, you remember my friend, Helen. She came home with me a few years ago, she was a couple of years ahead of me in school. She was 21 and her husband had passed away a couple months before. They were the same age,” Hannah sighed. “They met their first year at BYU. He was so cute, very handsome, they had fallen in love immediately. He was sweet, kind, and really perfect. They were perfect together, so happy. Till his headaches got really bad. He went to the doctor and yeah, brain cancer, inoperable. Three months later all Helen could do was hold his hand and watch him die,” Hannah sighed again.
Silence settled on the room as Hannah finished telling about Helen. She noticed a sad smile on Sarah’s face, and how her mom was pretending what Hannah had said didn’t affect her at all.
To Hannah’s surprise her Dad spoke breaking the silence, “Sammy,” he began slowly, “You need to leave Alex alone. He’s a good man, and he loves our Hannah. And even more importantly Hannah needs him.”
Hannah wanted to run over to her dad and give him a huge hug, but she knew it would cause trouble with her mom. So she mouthed a silent, “Thank you.”
David winked and nodded, then went back to breaking beans.
Her mom continued to pretend nothing had been said.
When all the work of the day was done Hannah resisted the urge to grab another biscuit as she put them in the fridge for the next day’s work. They always made loads of them for the dressing, but Hannah liked them with a little butter and sometimes a little jam, it was a weakness.
Everyone was heading out for ranch tours, everyone except Samantha. They were going to take turns flying over the ranches and New Parish. All this was to happen before the traditional pizza and charades later. Dave and Sarah were already doing a bit of “clean” trash talk about who was going to win, Hannah had found that very entertaining, all day.
When everyone was gathered back together that evening, TVs were set up in the sitting room off of the kitchen for the kids to watch movies and play video games. Alex’s staircase room was the designated charades room, he hadn’t winced much at giving up his man cave for a couple of days.
There were five teams this year, the scoreboard was a large white board set up in front of Alex’s bar. This was the first time Hannah had her own team. She’d always known it would happen and now that it had, it felt even better than she’d thought it would, “A little weird,” she thought, “But, cool.”
Teams were divided up thusly: David, Samantha, and Beth. Her parents had always claimed Beth for their team because she was the book worm extraordinaire, she was also a librarian and had vast knowledge of all things literature.
They thought it gave them an advantage, Hannah thought it only gave them an advantage when the charade was about some old book or Shakespeare.
The next team was Dave and his wife Tabitha. The third team was Paul and his wife Margie. Next was Sarah’s team, which included Brenda, along with Max, of course, and Myra, and Del. Lastly was Hannah’s team, with her, Alex, Patty, Hope, and Cilla.
Once everyone was in the staircase room, numbers were drawn by the team captains to see what order the teams would present. Dave drew the number one, and smirked at Sarah, who rolled her eyes and drew number three. Hannah’s parents got number two, Paul got four, and Hannah drew five.
As Dave went to the charades bag, sitting on the center table, to draw his first challenge from it, Hannah noticed Alex sitting back relaxed looking amused. She had to smile…
Dave groaned a bit when he pulled the old strip of paper from the bag, then walked over to the designated charades spot at the end of the sitting area. He looked at it again as if he was wishing the words had changed, then placed one hand under his chin to accent his mouth opening as his other hand was behind his back acting as though he were moving a lever up and down. The room was silent with a lot of questioning looks on many faces.
Dave stopped this action and then did something very un-Dave like. He tip toed around with his hands pretending he were daintily holding onto a short skirt.
Everyone burst out in laughter and Myra shouted, “The Nutcracker Ballet!”
Dave sighed and nodded, “Thanks for ending that.”
Sarah jumped up triumphantly and went over to the scoreboard and put a tick mark under her team’s name.
David was next, and pulled out another old looking piece of paper. He slowly unrolled it and stoically read it. Then he looked at the back wall as if in deep thought and his eyes return to the slip of paper. With a sigh, he moved over to the presentation spot. Holding out both hands with a questioning look, he then pointed at himself.
“Who am I?” Beth spoke quietly.
David nodded and began to act very strangely. First, he squatted down and stood back up using his hands in a rising motion. Then he started strutting around like a bird with its chest puffed out. Then he opened his mouth as if he were singing, but with no sound coming out.
The audience went from watching intently to uncontrollable laughter in rotating intervals. There was also rapid whispering among the teams as they tried to figure out the answer.
He returned to the squatting and standing, but this time instead of the rising motion with his hands, he looked as though he were holding them purposefully low and then high. Then he began to pretend he were walking up stairs. After that, he pointed to his chin, and pulled at the loose bit underneath his chin to accent the extra part.
Hannah was at a complete loss, so she just decided to sit back and enjoy the show. She could overhear Sarah’s team whispering about a singing farmer and her Mom and Beth saying something about Fiddler on the Roof, but to her it was just hilarious.
Finally, Myra said, “Tevye?”
As per the rules David still couldn’t speak, so he held up his index finger on each hand, put them together and then apart.
“Oh,” Samantha said, “that’s only part of the charade.”
“How many words?” Sarah asked.
David held up seven fingers and began to dance around like a bird and as though he were dancing around a large pole.
“Tevye, If I were a Rich Man,” Beth asked tentatively.
“Yes!” David said, exhaustedly.
Sarah stood and looked as though she were scared of what the bag might do to her. She grabbed the bag by the top and shook it really good, looking as though she hoped all the hard ones would be shaken down to the bottom. She drew a slip of paper that looked old and very worn, she sighed even before she unrolled it.
Stepping into the charades arena, Sarah turned to face everyone. Her face held a blank expression, she raised her hands to the top of her head with all fingers pointing up. Her expression changed to one that looked prideful and haughty.
Del asked, “Are you a queen?”
Sarah shook her head in the negative and held her arms up to show muscles and express masculinity. Then she pretended her hands were a book which she opened and closed several times as she pretended to read.
Everyone looked clueless so she changed her approach all together and began pretending to dribble a ball, then she suddenly jumped and pretended an epic slam dunk.
“King James!” Max shouted.
Laughter erupted throughout the room and another tick mark was added to Sarah’s team score.
Charades went late that night. David finally had to intervene and call it done for the night. Sarah’s team was ahead by five and Dave was not happy about it.
The next morning Hannah woke to her alarm blaring loudly and was very tempted to snooze it. Forcing herself up, she quickly showered, dressed, and ran down to meet Sarah, who was coming in the front door as she reached the bottom of the stairs.
That day progressed much the same as the day before, only different foods were made ready for the next day’s feast. There was only one incident, which was between Dave and Brenda. Hannah thought Dave should have known better. Brenda had always been able to promptly put him in his place, or the place she deemed he should be put in. They were running out of places to put the deserts and as they deliberated on where to store them, Dave snidely said, “Maybe we should just keep the best ones and toss the others.” To which Brenda replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were trying to solve a problem, I didn’t’ realize you thought it was a moment to be rude.”
Hannah had laughed so hard, not just at what Brenda had said, but at the expression on Dave’s face, which was priceless.
When the work was finished for the day, they had every fridge in the house full to capacity, every counter top brimming, and five ovens filled with two turkeys and three hams.
Hannah lamented a bit over the smell of food throughout the house, it made her hungry all the time, no matter where she was.
Alex hitched up the big wagon and took everyone for a hay ride that evening before the pizza and charades. Hannah thought it was a really nice respite after the work and before the battle. Max brought his guitar so they sang songs as they rode along the old wagon trail. To Hannah this was a little bit of heaven, she could tell by the expression on Sarah’s face that she was feeling the same.
For the final tally in charades, Sarah’s team won by two points. Dave decided that he and Paul would merge teams for next year’s competition, “It’s only fair. You guys have more people on your teams, creating an unfair advantage over us two person teams.”
“Fine,” David allowed. “You guys can merge next year, but no more complaining this year.”
After her good night hug Hannah went to bed without full recollection of getting there. The alarm once again woke her before she was quite ready to be that way. Yawning, she rolled out of bed, although she was leftover tired, she was excited about the day. Thanksgiving had always been her second favorite holiday, just simply because she knew her family would all be together.”
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We all have our own unique way of thinking about things. Sometimes we know we’re justifying ourselves, but, continue on anyways… Hannah has a lot to sort out, and sometimes she justifies herself too… But, she does have Sarah to keep her honest.
I love the relationship between Sarah and Hannah, I hope you all enjoy it as well!
Excerpt from Return to New Parish:
Chapter 6 – Things Change
“Waking early the next morning Hannah did her best to swipe the vivid memories, of the annoying, recurring dreams, of the old cowboy and his horse, from her mind. She showered and dressed quickly so she would have time to go for a walk before the shopping trip.
Pulling on her sneakers, she heard a light tapping on the door, it opened and Sarah said, “Hey, I’m glad you’re up.”
“Oh, yeah, why?” Hannah queried with a “what’s up” look.
“Mom, called last night,” Sarah said with a raised eyebrow.
Hannah knew all too well what the raised eyebrow meant. It meant she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t. She also knew that if her mom had called things were about to change, for better or worse, things were going to change.
Sarah continued, “She wanted to know how you’re doing and when you plan on heading home. You haven’t told her what you’re planning on doing have you?”
“Um, no,” Hannah replied a little defensively. “I didn’t want to add any drama to my decisions.”
“Coward,” Sarah accused her, bluntly.
Hannah chuckled, “I’ll tell her, eventually.”
“Han,” Sarah said firmly, “If you can’t tell Mom and Dad what you’re going to do then maybe you shouldn’t do it. This is a very serious commitment, you have to be all in.”
“Fine, fine,” Hannah sighed. “I’ll call them tonight.”
“Okay,” Sarah smiled, “We’re leaving at nine.”
“Cool,” Hannah said as Sarah left her there to dread the call and the changes it would bring.
Grabbing her coat, scarf, and gloves Hannah went outside. The gardens were all frost covered and when she breathed out there was a white mist where her breath touched the air. Everything seemed too quiet, nothing was moving, no wind, no sound to be heard from any direction. This made Hannah think of the old saying, “calm before the storm.” As she walked past the barn and toward the long driveway that led out of the ranch she wondered, if, there was an impending storm…
Climbing up on the fence near the end of the driveway, Hannah sat on the top rail. She watched the cows in the pasture, they were standing still, almost like statues. “I guess it’s too cold for them to move around much,” she thought to herself. It was beginning to feel more and more like one of those surreal moments that don’t make sense till later, if ever. It felt almost like time were standing still and waiting for her to get the clue, but she just wasn’t getting it. “Maybe it’s this funk I’ve been in lately,” she pondered to herself. She couldn’t figure out why she was feeling the way she was feeling but decided it wasn’t a bad feeling so she would just file it away for now and sort it out later.
The sky was starting to light up with a breathtaking array of pastel colors, Hannah sat there on the rail and watched the show. “Time’s not standing still,” she thought, “it’s moving wonderfully ahead.””
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