Barlows In Birmingham

12295180-passing-the-batonIn my last blog entry, I spoke of my fear of how I might react before, during or after my daughter Anne's wedding to Adam on 20 July 2013 (you can read my thoughts more fully below).

You can read some details of the wedding by clicking the "Imports" page. The whole affair could not have been more perfect.

As for my small part and how I lived it, it could not have felt more natural and a great way to symbolically pass the baton for Anne's spiritual covering from myself to Adam. What a joy! I now look forward to this next stage in the life of our daughter, as we get to know Adam better and forge a modified relationship with the two of them "as one."

fatherIn a few short days (20 July), our second oldest daughter Anne will be married to Adam. For months, we have been making plans, talking through details, anticipating each aspect, and sharing in the joy and challenges of pulling off a major event to mark the official start of their new life together.

If I'm brutally honest, my biggest worry about Anne and Adam's wedding is something I hope will NOT happen. Above all, I don't want to become "the father of the bride." You know, the role that Steve Martin has played multiple times in those films that MaryAnn and the girls loved to watch over and again. For me, each viewing brought out an extremely mixed set of emotions - some laughter, some tears, some fear, some excitement. But the panic about how to avoid becoming Steve Martin's character in real life grew each time I saw the film or even heard the title.

The last thing I want to be remembered for is ruining any of my daughter's weddings. Up until now, I think I've done okay at not mentioning money at every turn, not questioning any decisions, and not imposing my vision of how the wedding should go on the bride and groom-to-be. But there are still two weeks to go. I'm praying I won't fall prey to the stereotype - but that I can occupy well my small role in the gala event: simply the bride's father.

But just in case, if you are coming to the wedding: do NOT point your videocamera my way. I don't want any of what might happen to be the forthcoming "Father of the Bride 4"!

299-fiftieth birthday balloonBefore I was a teenager, someone who was 50 years old seemed ancient. As a teen, I was downright scared of getting old. So, as I turned 50 last Saturday, I wondered how I would feel.

At the same time, many of the cards I received and people who wished me a "Happy Birthday" asked how I felt turning the big 5-0. To my own amazement - as well as theirs - I don't feel anything negative about turning a half-century. In fact, as strange as it may seem, it actually feels like something of an accomplishment. Not that I did anything to get to this milestone, besides avoiding some dangers that could have ended my life - and possibly driving safely.

But I guess it feels like I have lived enough life now to have my own opinions. Maybe I have gathered enough "life experience" data to make choices which are beginning to resemble wisdom. And perhaps, I am far enough along on the life journey to offer to others some perspective which could actually be worth something.

None of that means I have the "final word" on anything. But I feel like I've learnt some things worth passing along. It may never happen, but rather than mourning this significant mile-marker on the road of life - I am anticipating this next stage: adult children, sons-in-law, and (dare I say it) possibly grandkids not far behind. (That IS a weird thought.)

For today anyway, I'm not at all regretting turning 50 . . .

wintervalAdvent season is here again - a time of preparing and expectant waiting. And with it comes the ongoing debate of what to call this holiday in an increasingly pluralistic society. Many euphemisms have been tried to avoid what growing numbers of people are calling a "sensitive" issue of calling Christmas "Christmas": Yuletide, Seasons' Greetings, Winter Wishes - and perhaps the most creative, Winterval. That beauty was used by the city of Birmingham in 1997 and 1998 - and apparently, brought such strong reactions that it was jettisoned after just two years of employment.

Is this annual debate just as inevitable as mince pies and mulled wine? Perhaps. After all, human civilizations have been celebrating some sort of festival at winter solstice for millenia, signaling the end of long, dark winter days - as the amount of daily sunlight began to grow once again. Maybe the culture of political correctness will be able to squelch all references to Christmas.

Still, on a more philosophical level, wouldn't it be nice if we had a holiday that was about something more than simply a few more minutes of sunlight each day? Don't we long down deep for something a bit special, a bit different, a bit miraculous even? What if it were really true that God wanted to break into human history, to give us hope of something more, something so far beyond what we know right now that we have to use our imaginations and believe in something beyond what we can see, touch, taste, hear and smell?

That is what I long for - though so much of what I was taught argues for the "enlightenment" where no such imagination or belief is permitted. My wish for all who read this is that somehow, more than ever before, this Advent will be filled with wonder at what we DON'T know of this God who came as the true light to show us the ultimate victory over darkness . . . Glorious Advent and Happy Christmas to one and all! 


Tom's Blog

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