Tag Archives: family

Happy Thanksgiving

from my family to yours!

(circa 2001 or 2002)

For all its greatness (trust me — I am the last man on earth to sell it short), the created order cries out for futher greatness still. The most splendid dinner, the most exquisite food, the most gratifying company, arouse more appetites than they satisfy. They do not slake man’s thirst for being; they whet it beyond all bounds. Dogs eat to give their bodies rest; man dines and sets his heart in motion. All tastes fade, of course, but not the taste for greatness they inspire; each love escapes us, but not the longing it provokes for a better convivium, a higher session. We embrace the world in all its glorious solidity, yet it struggles in our very arms, declares itself a pilgrim world, and, through the lattices and windows of its nature, discloses cities more desirable still.

You indict me, no doubt, as an incurable romantic. I plead guilty without contest. I see no other explanation of what we are about. Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers, why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry, or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half of earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself — and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last. We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.

from chapter 16 of The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon, via Pete Peterson at The Rabbit Room

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The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti

Word Lily review

The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti (Guideposts, 2009), 304 pages

Intertwined with the story of a precious set of heirloom glass Christmas ornaments is the story of a family, full of difficult, hurting people.

I was skeptical when I saw this book was published by Guideposts, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.

Every chapter was from a new perspective. It probably wasn’t the best option plot-wise, but I quite enjoyed seeing so many different aspects from such varied (and contradictory) points of view. This aspect of the book actually delighted me.

I loved the different liturgies of this family drama! I was crying inside 100 pages. This book forced me to slow down.

From page 198 (Does this remind anyone else of War and Peace?):

“I was just thinking how much the same all families are. Not in looks or race or religion, but in how we act, how we treat each other, how we love — and how much damage we do in spite of the love.”

I loved the back story, the emigration from Italy, the description of the precious heirlooms. I loved learning how different individuals had come to be considered members of the family. And I loved the reconciliation, too. Oh, and it spoke to my love of tradition, as well.

I found this a touching, quick read. Not merely fluff, but pretty feel-good, at the same time. An excellent Christmas book. Many of the characters and relationships are familiar. But they’re not trite, not clichéed, in Alborghetti’s hand.

A sequel, Three Kings Day, is scheduled to be published by Guideposts in 2011.

This book was shortlisted for an INSPY award in general and literary fiction.

About the author
Marci Alborghetti has written more than a dozen books; this is her second novel. She and her husband live in Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay area.

Other reviews
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My mom’s having surgery this morning. It’s been scheduled for a few weeks, and it’s an outpatient procedure. But still. She’s my mom. I’d appreciate your prayers for everything to go smoothly, for the operation to be successful, and for … Continue reading


When I heard the news Friday that Grandpa had died, I just had to write. I couldn’t not. We were in the car, en route to Nashville for Hutchmoot, and I cried and wrote. What I wrote, I shared at the funeral yesterday and am posting here also.

One might look at Grandpa’s life and declare it narrow. He lived on the same (small, by today’s standards) piece of land nearly all his life. Many of the things we may consider normal aspects of daily life he never experienced. But I will not define his life by what he lacked.

His love was huge. He kept up with the world’s happenings and could talk easily with anyone. He placed others before himself. Life didn’t end up exactly how he’d planned and dreamed. But still he saw the silver lining.

He served his country, but like most of his generation he didn’t talk much about the gruesome things he doubtless saw. He did like to share about the places he went, though. He saw the world in World War II.

Whether based in actual events or fictional, long or short, tall tales or more realistic. Serious or just for fun. He loved a good yarn.

He told stories. He read to us. He read books himself. He watched old movies and the news.

On Friday when I heard the news about Grandpa I was reminded about a beloved book character. I don’t know if you all know Mitford’s Uncle Billy from the books by Jan Karon, but he’s dear to me. I’ll just tell you a little about him:

Uncle Billy is always ready with a joke. He treats his telling of jokes like a job of sorts, placing all kinds of pressure on himself to find and deliver the best of jokes. Uncle Billy isn’t actually anyone’s uncle, but in a way the whole community leans on him. Besides his jokes, Billy is known for loving his wife fiercely. It’s perhaps what he’s not known for that’s the most extraordinary, though. He drew. Exquisite drawings that when they came to light lessened the financial burden tremendously. He caned chairs, he carved. And he did all this quietly, without presumption. With no expectation.

Uncle Billy reminds me of Grandpa. Life may not be easy, but he brings the smiles.

I heard a new story just a couple weeks ago, when Grandpa’s brother was visiting:

When he was young, and they’d had a dry year and thus didn’t have enough hay to feed the cows, they drove ’em, in trucks, to the Sandhills (by Purdum, he said) so they could graze. On the way home, they stopped at every place and had a bullfight. “Our bull was a good fighter,” he said. “It didn’t ever take long to win.”

He enjoyed stories both as a recipient and as a purveyor. More than either of those, though, I remember how he created stories — memories — for me. For us.

When I was little Grandpa took Luke and I out to a hill and handed us a gun. He’d previously set up cans across the way for us to aim at. When I hit a can with my first shot, he called me Annie Oakley.

He took us sledding. He made us toys. He played the squeezebox and sang. He let us into his story, showing us around the farm.

Grandpa loved the land. He delighted in his family. His life was large.

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

Her Mother’s Hope (Marta’s Legacy) by Francine Rivers (Tyndale, March 16, 2010), 512 pages

In her father’s eyes, Marta is the unfavored daughter. She’s too tall, her hair is dark, and her intelligence just makes her older brother look bad. Her determination to flee the bad situation, spurred on by her ambition and her mother’s blessing, starts her on a lifelong journey from her homeland of Switzerland to Canada and later to Central Valley of California, encompassing two world wars.

Although I’ve greatly enjoyed every Francine Rivers book I’ve ever read and I was greatly looking forward to digging into this one, I was also a bit hesitant because it’s based in part on Rivers’ family history. I’ve read other books like that (by authors I’d previously enjoyed) and been hugely disappointed.

I shouldn’t have worried. This is not (merely) a tribute to Rivers’ ancestors; this is a compelling family saga that crosses borders and decades. And I’m so glad! It feels like it’s been ages since Rivers released a full-length novel.

The characters aren’t always portrayed in the best light, but they’re very real in their flaws and still somehow (mostly) sympathetically drawn. Certainly not everything that happens is happy; I was tearing up within the first 30 pages.

I can’t wait for the sequel, Her Daughter’s Dream (Marta’s Legacy), which is set for release September 14, 2010.

About the author
Francine Rivers is the author of many stupendous books; she’s probably best known for Redeeming Love and her Mark of the Lion series.

Other reviews
5 Minutes for Books
Books, Movies and Chinese Food
Reading to Know

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