The Armstrong Archives (13): Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

180December, 1975  Merry Christmas!!

After a three-month hiatus, I’ve finally decided to break down and write a family letter, hoping thereby to reconcile myself to all those who in good faith have written us and expected a response! Everything is going just great here, but I’m learning that caring for a newborn is more time-consuming than graduate school ever thought about being.

Where should I start in catching up? How about with Aaron Alan, who is on my mind because I can hear his social cackle from the bedroom, suggesting that he would rather be entertained than take his nap? He is now ten weeks old, six pounds and five inches bigger, looking so different that Alan caught me the other night saying, “When Aaron was little…” The birth experience itself was truly incomparable and incomprehensible. I am reminded of a childbirth brochure we read in preparation for the event: “Childbirth can be Painless and Joyful.” It was not my experience that natural childbirth is painless, but Alan and I both felt a flood of joy when our little lump of a baby came slithering out. Our long-awaited “Herbie” (his prenatal nickname) magically turned into Aaron, a real person separate from ourselves, much loved—but really quite an unknown other. It took several weeks before we could distinguish between cries and begin to understand him. Now he’s no longer a stranger but really a part of us, and we just love being a family. In fact, we wouldn’t trade him in for anything in the world!!193It took Aaron a while to figure out who we are too. He spends hours studying his mom while nursing, and I think those are the most precious times I spend with him. He always seems so happy after eating and will smile and coo at me contentedly. The other highlight of his day is his bath, which he shares with his dad. Alan takes him right in to the bath tub with him and Aaron goes nuts! He kicks and splashes and shrieks—gets so worn out that he falls right to sleep afterward. So now he knows who Alan is too, and he’s started working on himself. This morning I let him look in the mirror. He looked at me, then at himself, then back to me, again and again. He smiled at himself, and he frowned at himself, batted at the mirror with his hand and stared. Who the little guy is…is still definitely a mystery.191 Alan with Aaron and our niece, Joli (Louthan) Holm…on Aaron’s first Christmas.

Alan is thoroughly enjoying medical school and I think is over the major hurdles of adjusting to the style of education and making up his deficient science background. On the first exam he laughingly told me that he placed about 183rd in the class (of 256 students), but we were really satisfied because Aaron had arrived during that time and there were gross amounts of material that Alan had never even seen before. We just got the results back from his second exam and he placed in the top 10% of his class. His comment was, “The Lord’s touch is unmistakable.” How true. We are both keenly aware that success in school, as in all other areas of life, is not dependent on one’s gift of intelligence alone. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Hans Selye Wiki CommonsDr. Hans Selye,* an erudite old gentleman who has gained world renown for his creative research on stress (instrumental in developing the use of cortisone), guest lectured at Wayne several weeks ago. After three hours he drew three conclusions to his life’s work: 1) Find your highest obtainable goal and go after it 2) Have an altruistic egoism 3) Love your neighbor as yourself. This was his answer to dealing with stress in one’s life after fifty-some years of research and thought. The most profound of truths can be understood by the simplest of minds and taught to the youngest of children. King Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man in the world in his day, wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” In the light of this, those of us who would pride ourselves in our intellect can be reproved. Detroit_SBTLiving in Detroit** is becoming more palatable for both of us. Besides the obvious advantages of cultural events (such as the “Christmas Festival” we’re going to this Friday night, and the Red Wings hockey games—not too refined but of special interest to us as Northerners), we are exposed to lots of new and exotic experiences…such as the aroma of Wonder Bread baking, or lye brewing at the Wayne Soap Company—a truly memorable stench. Also, we live minutes away from Detroit Metropolitan Airport and have a spare bedroom, so we are lucky enough to get company occasionally. Come whenever you can!Highland Park Baptist Church We finally found a church we both really enjoy: Highland Park Baptist.* It has 1968 members and is by far the largest church we’ve ever attended together, but we just love it and have decided to push up the membership by two more after we take the necessary class during Sunday school starting in January. The church is a twenty-mile drive for us, but it’s so good that it attracts people from all over Detroit’s metro area, and via prayer meeting we’ve met some rather well known Michiganders. Tonight we prayed with Don Lonnie and his wife. As a high school girl I used to listen to his hilarious and piercing challenges to Christian teenagers on records. I was so surprised to meet him in person! I guess because I thought so much of him as a girl it somehow didn’t occur to me that he was a person—just like the rest of us!

Believe it or not, Alan has gone to bed without me, the first time all year, so I should probably quit before you get tired of reading. I thoroughly enjoy playing house. The thoughts of leaving academia really frightened me last spring; I loved teaching and felt confident in my role as a student. Somehow giving up school to become a mother made me feel very old. I had to admit that I wasn’t a kid anymore. But, that was all pre-Aaron. Now I really don’t know what I’d do without him, and Alan and I are both recommending children to our several friends who are expecting their first…and to our friends and family who’ve had the same hesitations that we had about starting a family. I think babies are a lot more pleasure than pain—as long as you take children as one of your goals in life, not as a casual sideline that gets in the way of your “real” career. We now think that starting a family at this juncture of our lives was a great blessing!186Well, I’ve got to close. We love you all and are looking forward to seeing most of you soon. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and lots of happiness in 1976.

Love, A, K,&AA

192[This year—2012—was our first Christmas without Alan’s sister Janice! We miss her, and I know that many of you are missing loved ones too. Sorry. 😦 I hope those of you with little ones are able to enjoy your happy, busy, sometimes frantic lives!]

* Statue of Dr. Hans Selye from Slovakia’s Selye Janos University via Wiki Commons  **Picture of Detroit from the Albion Pleiad. When we lived in Detroit, it was America’s fifth largest city and had a thriving auto industry. *Picture of Highland Park Baptist Church from their website. The senior pastor there now (Brent Slater) is the younger brother of one of our best friends from medical school days, and I’ve no doubt but that Brent is a gifted teacher. I believe the church would still be an excellent place to consider if anyone in the Detroit area is looking for a church home.

One response to “The Armstrong Archives (13): Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  1. I had no idea you’d gone to Highland Park. It’s fun to think of you living so close to my stomping grounds.

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