SOUDER: Milestones that we should hug and kiss before it’s too late

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By Chuck Souder

Tuesday of this week marked the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Indeed, Dec. 7, 1941 has become, just as President Roosevelt proclaimed, “a date which will live in infamy.” Other dates and events are embedded into the fabric of our country as well: July 4, 1776. Nov. 22, 1963 (when JFK was assassinated). Jan. 28, 1986 (the day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded). Sept. 11,2001.

Although these and other dates have special meaning to our society at large, there are other dates that have significance on a more personal level. The day you got your license. Your first kiss. Graduation. Your wedding day. The day your child was born. These days, and others like them, are milestones in each of our lives.

Our family is right in the middle of a milestone “trifecta.” Last week we traveled back to my wife’s hometown in Southern Illinois to attend her 25th high school class reunion; this week we celebrated our son’s birthday; and next week we will commemorate our wedding anniversary.

The first of our milestone events was Rhonda’s class reunion, which brought about in my wife a strange mix of anxiety, dread and excitement.

The itinerary for the reunion consisted of a meet and greet time, a buffet dinner and a dance – which coincidentally brought about a strange mix of anxiety, excitement and dread (in that order) for me.

The couple sitting across the table from us had an interesting story. On their way to the reunion from their home near Chicago, they saw a large St. Bernard wandering along the interstate.

Being dog lovers and fearing that the dog would be struck by the oncoming traffic, they stopped and put him in their car. They then proceeded to take him to their hotel room – where they left him unattended while they came to the reunion!

(Observant long-time readers of this column will understand that this most definitely broke one of the “unbending laws of the Universe.”)

Prizes were given away for the classmates who had traveled the farthest, changed the most, changed the least and been married the longest.

This last award revealed that two members of my wife’s class had been married more than 25 years, which, in an age of “easy” divorce, is certainly commendable.

And in one of the many “wow,-that’s-so-different- than-us” moments of the evening, we learned that one of those women already had six grandchildren! My parents have six grandchildren.

Other members of the West Frankfort Redbird class of ’86 stood out as well. There was the guy I never saw without an adult beverage in his hand – including when they got everyone together for a class picture.

There was the guy wearing a John Deere hat and matching t-shirt, who looked particularly out of place next to the guy wearing a black suit, shirt and tie. Or maybe it was the guy in the suit who was out of place.

All in all the evening went as painlessly as could be reasonably expected and I got to place a check in the “Good Husband” box (and I can use as many of those as I can get).

Speaking of the blessed state of Holy Matrimony, next week Rhonda and I will celebrate 15 years of being happily married. And, as I always say, 15 out of 20 ain’t bad.

During those years we have shared many unforgettable moments, much laughter, and yes, some tears as well. And though we didn’t know what we were getting into as we stood before family and friends and committed our lives to one another all those years ago, there have certainly been times of better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health.

Without getting too sentimental, I’ll just say that I am abundantly blessed that she has put up with me this long, and to borrow a quote, “If she ever leaves me, I’m going with her!”

Perhaps the greatest blessings that have come from our 20 years of marriage are our two wonderful children.

Though it seems like just yesterday when they were born, they are now both in the “double digits.”

Our son, Chase, turned 10 this weekend, and in a rite of passage I gave him the Red Ryder BB gun that I had received when I was about his age.

When the weather gets a little warmer, it will be open season on cardboard boxes and aluminum cans in our side yard. I look forward to sharing those conquests with him.

As we celebrated our son’s birthday this week, my mind went back to a day just before his fourth birthday when he stepped up on the bathroom scales to see how much he weighed.

My wife remarked about how big he was getting, and asked him, “What am I supposed to do with babies who keep growing?”

Chase answered, “Just hug them and kiss them before it’s too late!”

That’s pretty good advice. Our children are with us for such a short time.

If you have little ones still at your house, I encourage you to take the advice of an almost 4-year-old (who is now 10) and hug them and kiss them before it’s too late.

I wonder if that’s how Mary felt.

From the moment the angel visited her, she knew that her son would be different. I wonder if, when Mary held that newborn baby in her arms, she thought, “I better hug him, and kiss him, and love him, before it’s too late”?

I wonder how Mary and Joseph celebrated the milestones in Jesus’ life: his first tooth, his first words, his first steps.

Though only those closest to us share our family milestones, 2,000 years later people all over the world still celebrate His: His birth; His death; His resurrection. 

As you celebrate this Christmas season with those closest to you, don’t forget whose birthday party it is.

Immanuel – God with us. Jesus – God becoming man. More than any reunion or anniversary, that is a milestone worth remembering.


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org