Note: This column appears in today's New Castle Courier-Times. A much shorter version appeared on Ovid Community Church's Facebook page as a Wednesday devotion. Times and seasons of life change. #Feelinggrateful.
By Donna Cronk
The first mother-daughter banquet I remember was at about age 4 in the basement of our little Methodist Church. It was also my first experience with favors, those pretty or useful “little somethings” appearing at each place setting – keepsakes to remember an event. Oh, I remember. I can still envision the plastic red roses. I thought they were gorgeous.
Through the years I looked forward to attending these spring affairs with my mother. Each was a chance to dress up, have a fancy (for us) meal, be entertained by a singer or speaker, maybe play a game or win a door prize. Most of all, it was a night out with Mom.
Then I grew up and moved far from my hometown. It no longer seemed feasible to make it back, about 160 miles, for the Mother’s Day banquet tradition. Still, I mentally sighed, wishing I could be no other place.
Even though I loved these banquets that celebrated mothers and daughters, we never attended one together in my adult years. When I think of the many do-overs I wish I had in life, this is one of them. I should have taken time off work and gone.
But when you’re 30, it seems a hassle for something so minor. It isn’t until you reach 60 that you know it wasn’t minor to spend a special night with your mom and to recognize what I would give for one more.
Then came the years of her Alzheimer’s disease, while at the same time Brian and I were raising two sons and working at our careers. These were years when a mother-daughter banquet seemed an alien concept. With my mother unable to attend, and having no daughters, not to mention no sisters, nor cousins to accompany me, I figured I’d never again attend such a sweet evening.
I didn’t feel I had a place at the table.
Who could guess the turns – I would call them blessings – that life can take? My Sam married a girl who not only relishes mother-daughter banquets, but Allison and her mother have often planned them at her Indianapolis church. It turns out I would be included each year on the guest list!
But there’s more. Once I published my novels, I started getting invitations to speak at mother-daughter banquets. Banquet season is when I’m asked to speak most. I’ve spoken twice each at my church and at Allison’s church in recent years. Not only did I have a seat at the table, but also a son in the kitchen helping with the meal and a husband serving food off rolling carts!
This season, I’ve spoken at two banquets and attended two more as a guest. My tea cup runneth over.
Mother’s Day isn’t all sunshine and flowers to every mother or daughter but you probably don’t know that because they tend to keep quiet this time of year. It can be painful to those who no longer have their mothers around on such a sentimental, emotionally charged day.
I like how my church started calling theirs Daughters of the King banquets. What a brilliant way to get around the high emotions of “mother-daughter.” We’re all daughters of the King! That means we each have a seat at the table.
If this day is hard on you for any reason, and you don’t feel you have a seat at a table, as I felt many years about mother-daughter banquets, ask the Lord to restore that seat to you – at whatever table it is that pains your heart. God is in the business of restoration and He can make things happen in ways we could not, even on our most creative days.
I’m thinking of that beautiful scripture of Joel 2:25 (NIV): “I will repay you for the years that the locust has eaten ...”
This restoration of mother-daughter banquets into my life may sound like a small thing. But it is not. Those banquets with my mother meant a lot. Now they mean a lot in a new way I – a way I had never imagined possible.
Courier-Times Neighbors Editor Donna Cronk also edits the quarterly her magazine for women. She is currently looking for essays from local women about great vacations they have taken, along with photos, for the next issue. Deadline is June 1.