Notes from Jan

Common Ground Isn’t so Common

September 18, 2019

The debate started on the way to church, leaving one grandchild sobbing,  the other determined to stand her ground.

“We will NOT serve Mama and Daddy’s anniversary dinner in the tree house, Poco!”

“You always have to have everything your way, Maggie.  Mama’d love  dinner up there.  She told me so.”

Sometimes too practical, I added, ” That’s a really creative idea, Poco, but by the time you’re serving the meal, it’ll be dusk when mosquitos anticipate their dinner on a hot, humid evening. Maggie fired her final shot, “I care more about my parents’ health!” (We’ve received warnings about the equine encephalitis bearing mosquito in Massachusetts.)

Between sobs, Poco let it be known, she didn’t want to kill her parents, just serve them dinner in the treehouse.

I kept driving, wishing Jud was along for this ride.

He excelled at finding common ground.

Once settled in church, I opened my purse, took out markers and two pieces of paper, suggesting each make an  anniversary card for their parents. I wedged myself  between them, grabbed my pen and notebook to take sermon notes.  Someone had to appear holy.

They remained busy during much of the service, with occasional glances at each other’s work.  Turns out they were calmly competing to see who could write the most words, sometimes including complaints to their parents about each other.

The whole scenario reminded me of married life and the small stuff that tends to trip us up.

Somewhere between church and home, the girls reached a compromise.  They’d serve the appetizers in the treehouse and dinner inside the house.

Once home, Poco swept and cleaned the treehouse like her parent’s lives depended on it.  Maggie began assembling ingredients, while I stood by awaiting orders from the chef,  whose title Poco resented.

“Maggie, why to you always get to be in charge and  all I get to do is serve?”

(Well, that’s an ongoing debate in many a marriage.)

Before long, Poco stood on a stool, stirring a sauce, while I followed Maggie’s directives.

Come to think of it, that may have been my biggest contribution, since I prefer to be in charge.  I’m too much like a sign I read somewhere,  “Sorry!! I don’t take orders.  I barely take suggestions.”

” Momo, I need  you  to cut up the root vegetables for roasting. Also, please chop a whole onion, and mince 4 cloves of garlic.”

I chopped and minced.

After a while, Maggie looked over at me and asked, “Are the onions making you cry, Momo?”

Well, let her think it’s the onions.  More like overwhelming awe at watching two aproned saints in process,  sharing love’s labors to produce a feast instead of perpetuate a feud.

What began with a compromise on the treehouse ended with chocolate mousse at the dining room table and a new card, produced by both of them.  Since their parents were celebrating their 14th anniversary, each daughter wrote 7 reasons they loved their parents.  As they wrote, I overhead them talking:

“I love Mommy and Daddy for making me.”(Poco, age 8)

After a moment to reflect, Maggie, age 12, reacted with,”Ewww!”

She’s at that age.

Soon they’ll both be older and wiser about love and life but I hope they never outgrow a willingness to hunt common ground,  sacred soil where love thrives.






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