Christmas as a family time may be traced back to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The story is that Augustus Caesar decreed that all the world should register for a census at their ancestral homes. The young woman who was betrothed to Joseph was pregnant. So, Joseph placed her on a donkey to travel to King David’s home, Bethlehem of Judea. At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Mary and Joseph’s son in Bethlehem.
Recently My Joy and I were guests of a family with international roots and branches. The grandfather had a machine shop in Canada. Now some of the grand children came from Australia through Ontario to Goshen. It is a family of engineers and musicians.
(This picture and next are from old albums. I apologize for the poor quality. Most people on them are deceased. Click on the pictures and they will enlarge to a slide show.)
The picture above was taken in 1903. My maternal Grandfather, Jacob A. Martin, is the gentleman seated with his third wife on his left. His thirteen children were born of his first two wives.
My mother is the little girl in the front row seated second from the right. Notice that none of the young women are wearing prayer head coverings. My grandfather was a deacon and did not believe in Sunday Schools for the Mennonite church. So my mother’s older sisters and brothers never became members of the Mennonite Church.
The family gathered again in 1926-7 for the picture on the right. The passing 23+ years had made changes. By this time the grandfather was deceased and my mother was married. Standing in the middle of the back row is a woman holding a baby wearing a white cap. That woman is my mother and I am the baby. (Click on picture to enlarge it.)
Notice that in this picture some of the women are wearing prayer head coverings, a sign that they had become members of the Mennonite Church.
Under the influence of the father of his second wife who was also a deacon, my grandfather Martin was persuaded to drop his opposition to Sunday School. Hence most of his younger children became members of the Mennonite Church. In spite of obvious differences, this family continues to have regular reunions. And the descendants continue to make changes in their faith and lifestyle. We should tell our children that change is a gift to the church.
I remember Lehman family reunions. The brothers and brothers-in-law vied in their ability to churn a special flavor of homemade ice cream. Unfortunately, after grandfather Lehman died the family discontinued regular reunions. I don’t know of any pictures taken at Lehman family reunions. Perhaps a cousin who reads this post has such a family picture and can share it with me.
Here is a picture of my father and mother and one of his brothers and his wife. My parents, J. Irvin and Ruth Lehman, are standing. Seated are Uncle Walter and Aunt Ada Grace Lehman, the parents of Ada Grace and the other eleven children they parented. Uncle Walter farmed the land owned by his father, my grandfather, and where he raised his ten children.
This is a time to explore and enjoy the myths of the season, but also to get out old family albums and tell our children and grand children the stories of their ancestors and the gifts they have given them.