Family history is inspiring, isn’t it? I love history. What’s equally as fascinating to me is the idea of a family culture.
So, a few generalizing things to know about the Langager family that I was just visiting with, is that they will hug you. We don’t often sit on a couch without snuggling. The men will weep easily when talking about their children, grandchildren, or their God. They love kids.
When my parents got divorced, my grandparents had just retired, and moved in with us during the 2 year transition. My mom went back to night school and started working full time. I remember one time I was 5 or 6 years old and stayed home from school sick. I had thrown up by accident on my grandpa and kept saying I’m sorry, and he would look me in the eye and say “It’s a privilege to care for you.”
The attitude towards children there can pretty much be summed up by that.
So one thing that really made an impression on me at the reunion was that the kids ran free everywhere. It wasn’t just my kids, it was everyone’s kids. That was normal. My kids would go up to an adult and ask if they had time to play a game, and the adult would act like they had been asked a high honor, and pull out a board game. Most of these people, when given the opportunity to have a conversation with an adult or a child, will pick the child. They find children interesting, delightful, and conversations with them to be a high honor, and a small window to pour love into that child and effect their development that should never be passed up. To be invited into the life of a child by the child himself? There is no greater honor. It’s part of our family culture.
Kids and grown ups aren’t usually segregated. I remember growing up sitting at the table of aunts, uncles, and cousins as adults talked about politics or religion, and my questions and comments were given the same attention as anyone else.
My kids made so many great relationships last weekend. It was incredible.
So there cannot be any better example of how children are delighted in without telling you about the Saturday night family talent show. Kids and adults both sang, played instruments, did sign language, Tae Kwon Do demonstrations (that was my David, of course), danced and so on. Actually there were always more skits at talent shows from reunions in the past, and there weren’t any skits this time which I found odd. Anyway…
My little cousin David L. who is about a year older than my son Elias (so about 7 years old), wanted to do art for his talent. He loves to draw, and wanted to draw something for the show.
So when his name was called, he brought his notebook up to the stage, sat down, and started to draw.
Now, I under the impression that maybe he was going to show us his artwork for his talent, but no, he wanted to draw right before our eyes. With over 100 people watching, this little boy just sketched away in his notebook. The crowd soon became anxious. He seemed in no hurry, and was very obviously careful and diligent in his work, but minutes passed, and he was just sitting there…coloring. It became awkward, but with every person in that room so in love with this little boy, no one wanted to push him aside, or tell him he was taking too long. Nearly everyone in the room wanted him to have success in his performance.
So after minutes passed, someone in the audience started humming a patriotic tune. Soon all of us were humming as we watched him color in his notebook. It was a good save.
The next patriotic song we sang instead of hummed. At the end of the song, with deep satisfaction, my little cousin sighed with contentment and put his color back in the box, paused, and then after studying his picture pulled out his next color.
My aunt and I were standing in the back, and when he took out the next color we got a fit of the giggles. He was just so adorable. Oh my word, how long would this last? When would the Langager delight in children reach the end of our collective rope and someone break in and say to this sweet one “why don’t you finish over there and we’ll see it when you are done?” No. We all sat there singing, with anticipation. Not one of us wanted to be anywhere else or do anything else.
When my aunt and I got the giggles, I was worried he would hear and be ashamed, though we were pretty quiet. We have often joked that our family has a “silent laugh” because when we laugh really, really hard, our laugh makes no noise, and all you see is our red faces with tears streaming down. So I leaned over to her and said to her, “It’s a good thing this is happening in a room full of Langagers because all of us have the Langager silent laugh.”
That really made her laugh, which really made me laugh, and pretty soon we were pointing at each other doing the silent laugh involuntarily, wiping tears away, and doubling over the laughing spell was so severe, with the occasional quieted hand clapping and leg slapping, intermixed with eye wiping.
And the singing continued in the crowd.
I think it was 6 or 7 songs altogether that the crowd sang on the 4th of July, all patriotic tunes, while little David L. drew his pictures. He proudly held up his landscape at the end and we all clapped and cheered.
Also, to end this little mini-series on our little vacation, I just wanted to add that my Grandpa was doing so well all weekend. He always knew who I was, and was so full of memories to share, and held my hand tight on numerous occasions just because. You could tell that after being in his secure nursing home in Arizona, coming back to his homeland was feeding his soul. He was breathing easy, and taking the sights and the people all in like he had missed us all so much. I feel so blessed that his mind was sharp for this trip, and his energy endured through it all, as I know he got hours less sleep a day at the reunion as his normal routine.
I am certain, though, that he just soaked in every minute.