Today I’m excited to welcome Gayl Wright to the “There’s No Place Like Home” series. I’ve come to know Gayl online, and so enjoy her graceful encouragement and wisdom. She shares about the meaning of home through her family life – having raised seven children, which boggles my mind! I love the rootedness of her life and the way family traditions emerged over the years.
Home is many things to many people. Some consider home to be the place where they live or the place where they were born. I have lived in so many places that it would be hard to pick one to call home. To me, home is wherever I happen to be living at a particular time.
Home is also a place where people live together as they learn to share, to work out differences, to develop skills and more. It’s a place where stories begin and memories are made. In my case it first began with my parents and then my brothers as they came along. When I married, home was wherever my husband and I found ourselves.
As our family grew the home included seven children, although my oldest was twenty when the youngest was born. At that time our four daughters were 20, 18, 14, and 12. My sons were 6, 3, and a newborn. When our baby boy was four months old we left our home in NJ and moved to SC. That was over 18 years ago! Most all have left home now to find their place in the world.
We tried to establish a few traditions, one of which was praying and reading the Bible together. We also enjoyed tea and reading time. I began reading to the girls every afternoon while they would draw or color pictures. We continued as the boys were born, although sometimes it was a challenge with toddlers and babies, but we did it!
Part of the reading was for our homeschooling, but we also chose fun books and adventure stories. A lot of the books we read were by British authors and we fell in love with the idea of tea time. I’m not sure exactly when we started the everyday tea, but it quickly became a tradition carried on even as my children became adults.
Because we liked reading so much we began including my husband in the evenings when he would read aloud to us. The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House books, the Lord of the Rings, Anne of Green Gables and the Swallows and Amazons series were a few of the many we enjoyed. We then branched out to such authors as G.K. Chesterton, Howard Pyle, P.G. Wodehouse, and others.
My children had big imaginations and were always making up plays or acting out stories, many of which were inspired by the books we read. A treasured discovery was a book written and illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien that started out as letters to his children from Father Christmas. It has appeal to children and adults alike and quickly became a favorite of our family to read in the days leading up to Christmas.
When I was growing up we did not celebrate Advent and I didn’t really know much about it until my husband and I had been married for awhile. As we learned about it we decided to make that a tradition. We would make or buy a wreath every year and position candles around it, lighting one each Sunday of Advent as we read from various sources.
One year, our family learned and sang together the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. We had a keyboard that could be set for a pipe organ, so I played the music which was recorded onto the keyboard. My husband, daughters and I learned the different parts and then shared it in church and with friends and family. One night while practicing in the car on the way home from visiting friends, our two-year-old surprised us by joining in!
Most of our days were not spent doing anything extraordinary, at least it didn’t seem that way to us. We enjoyed learning and doing things together. When I look back over my old journals I see that we did a lot of reading, singing, baking, playing, walking, talking, welcoming people into our home, and for the most part everyone got along well.
Of course we had our times of sibling rivalry, disagreements with Mom and Dad, arguments among ourselves, and other hard times. I know we did not always handle those things well, but our children knew we loved each other and we loved them. I think they felt secure in that.
Nowadays our home consists of my husband, myself and our oldest son, who battles muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair most of the time. It’s a challenge, but we are working on finding ways to make things easier for him. The three of us still spend time reading together almost daily. We also have chickens, two dogs and a cat who all live outside.
As Christmas quickly approaches we are once again lighting the candles around the Advent wreath continuing with a tradition started many years ago. The difference is that there are only three of us living here now, but the memories linger on, all contributing to making our house a home.
We always enjoy it when our other children and our grandchildren come to visit. It’s been awhile since we’ve had everyone at once as they live in various places and have different work and school schedules. At this point there are 26 of us, but the boys aren’t married yet…
Our home is always open for visitors. We love to share our beautiful views and from scratch home cooked food. One of the favorites is face pancakes. I’ve been told my pancakes are the best!
Come on over, make yourself at home and you’ll be treated like family.
Gayl Wright makes her home in upstate South Carolina. She is a seeker of truth who looks for beauty in ordinary things. A self-taught poet, photographer and artist, she loves to capture what she finds using her talents to encourage others and glorify God.