For landmarks and little boys…

It’s been a wonderful holiday with grandchildren visiting. This week I was carting three of them back north to meet up with their parents for their return home. Along the way we made several stops. At one interstate exit with which I was unfamliar, I was on the exit ramp and looking around somewhat anxiously for which direction to go to get to a fast food restaurant that was indicated on the highway sign. It was a four laned Walmart exit and was very busy. As I came to the rise of the exit ramp, there to my right, rising above all the other signs, clearly and unmistakably, were the golden arches! I thanked God (and MacDonalds) for them having the foresight to mark their location so clearly. It was just what I needed at that moment.

During the week’s visit with the grandchildren, I noticed some other ‘landmarks’- taller bodies, larger shoes, greater skill in managing things like bathroom needs on their own, greater mastery of language (and persuasion!). They were able to do some things they’d not done before- drink from paper cups with lids and straws without spilling in the car, sit through all of a movie at the theater without having to be called down for noise or going to the bathroom, express dislikes and preferences without welling up in tears, etc.

For these, too, I gave thanks. Each stage of the children’s growth is amazing to us. Since we see them only every few months, their changes always come as delightful surprises to us. I suspect that they are so subtle in the day to day routine with their parents that many of these seem unremarkable and go largely unnoticed.

Our youngest grandson, two this week, just in the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas went from the babytalk “ta-too” (thank you) to a clearly annuciated “thanks” when given something that he wanted. It stood out so distinctively to me as marking his transition from baby to toddler.

This week, too, I’ve been encouraged by reports that it seems we’ve turned the corner on the “attacks” on Christmas that we’ve seen in recent years as merchants, communities, and institutions backed down from some of their adamance this year about not having any religious symbols displayed or “merry Christmas” greetings. I pray that we can restore some other Christian ‘landmarks’ in the culture for our grandchildren so that they will have them to guide them and mark their way as they grow.

As another year begins, I pray that this will be a year when we do see a restoration of our Christian faith being proclaimed in the public square and that, just like those golden arches, those landmarks will be welcome signs to mark the way of the next generation.