The Armstrong Archives (60): Reflections on Christmas and Love, 1978

Nycteris with PresentThursday, December 28, 1978  Thanks for your letter, Mom! We’re all really enjoying our Christmas presents too. Alan looks very handsome in his new grey sweater, and he wears it all the time. (The weather has been fiercely cold the last few days: 0° and below.) Aaron’s new World magazine arrived. It’s exciting to see his growth in a year. I remember the first issue—he could repeat the words and answer “Yes/No” questions about the stories. This time I could read all the captions undiluted, and after telling the stories once (we had to read the whole magazine in one sitting), he brought the magazine into the kitchen and told the stories back to me (some), with amazing detail. How the kids change in one year!

Alan and both boys are sick again. I was up eleven times the other night and I lost track last night…not wanting to feel too sorry for myself. Actually, I’m very thankful to have been well most all winter and feel sorry for my three guys, who’ve just been sick an awful lot.

We got in several social engagements before everybody caught the flu, however. Friday we double-dated with Keith and Marji, who are getting married in ten days. They have become good friends—a friendship I hope lasts even after school. Sunday we went to Port Huron to see Larry and Kari Hembroff and Larry’s brother Ron’s family. The six of our kids had a ball—and so did we. I also enjoyed a short visit with Dan and Mary Ellen York via phone Tuesday. Dan is a Christian PhD candidate at Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology in Los Angeles (where I wanted to go and was accepted to go…although Alan and I got married instead). Dan and I were colleagues at Central. They expressed disappointment over the lack of interest their families had in sharing with each other or building relationships. It made me appreciative again of the relationships you have fostered with us!

Well, nursemaid duties will begin soon! Alan’s working OB/Gyn this month. He’s distressed by the number of illegitimate babies and young girls who are totally unprepared for birth among the Afro-American welfare teenagers here. Frightened fifteen-year-old girls with their moms for moral support. It’s a sad, sad situation. Childbirth was a challenge for me even surrounded by all the unusual securities I enjoy. I can’t imagine trying (having) to face everything totally alone and with the cold, inhumane distain of most of the attending staff…

Aaron just called to me again. He is pretty feverish and congested. A little trouble breathing (asthma), poor fellow! It may take all week to finish this letter…

Well, thanks again for everything. It was a whirlwind trip but so nice! I always learn so much from being around you and was impressed again with two of your obviously outstanding virtues: Mom’s marvelous capacity for sacrificial love, and Dad’s unusual clarity of thought and ability to understand ideas. I am absolutely sincere. I don’t know anyone (human) who has loved me as well as Mom or who has been as willing and able to communicate with me as Dad. For all that I’m extremely grateful!

That is not to minimize my appreciation for Alan—who’s also giving me all the love and understanding he’s got to give—and it’s a lot. Our relationship is really intense and profoundly intimate. I guess the uniqueness of marriage is in the depth and breadth of experience rather than in the quality so much. Quality and capacity seem inevitable linked to correctly responding to life’s experiences rather than—?—(I don’t know what else), so that the quality we give to our heirs is better than that which we have for ourselves. I also think all good gifts are the Lord’s blessings…primarily His sovereign graciousness, but also for obedience .

It struck me a couple of months ago that I loved Aaron more purely and understood him better than I did Alan, which troubled me up until just now. Why couldn’t—why shouldn’t—I feel that way about Alan? I know part of the answer, maybe… that Aaron doesn’t really reach back. What he knows, he knows very well, but he has a capacity for understanding so limited by his own short existence. It’s pretty much a one-way street, like God reaching down to man. Another thing has to do with expectations. If I expected as much from Alan as I do from Aaron—wouldn’t I be pleased?! If I expected nothing—I’d be overwhelmed. I’m going to concentrate on expecting…not what the law requires, which is perfection, but what grace allows, which is nothing.

This vacation I gave a friend (of your age) a small gift that cost $1.00. She cried when she opened it. She expected nothing! I received so many wonderful things and never once cried.

You know what gifts touched me the most? The Bible-verse note cards from Mom, and Dad saying at breakfast “Teach me something that’s important to you.”

You guys are the greatest! Thanks for everything.

Love, Me and Us IMG_6586[When I can’t find pictures to illustrate these memoirs, I’m use pictures from recent times…like nature scenes from around our home or pictures from happy times today. The first picture was of my grand daughter Nycteris last Christmas, and the one above was taken of Alan with Kathy’s two little ones a few weeks ago… who definitely bring back memories from 1978 when we had two toddlers!]