First Presbyterian Church – Cedar Rapids

December 20 – Becoming the Family of God

I have a blue baby blanket. It’s not that my parents were progressive gender-benders who gave me Tonka trucks, GI Joe’s, and a “boy’s blanket” – far from it. It was my brother’s blanket.

The story my mom told me is that I had an (adorable/disgusting) habit of stuffing my pink baby blanket into my mouth. I loved that pink blanket. According to the story, after every washing I sat by the dryer and cried until my mom extracted the blanket.

One Christmas Eve, when I was around 2½, my parents suggested I leave it out with Santa’s milk and cookies. It would be a warm cover for one of the reindeer, they said. I readily agreed. Some tellings of the story have it that I marched straight upstairs and stole the blue baby blanket from my brother, Rich, who was sound asleep in his crib. I loved that blue blanket.

This is a Barrow family Christmas story, a story we tell and retell about ourselves because we believe it says something important about us as a family. True, it may have as many accretions as the blue blanket, which has traces of old gum and a paint-by-numbers set, and may I come off looking like I was headed for a life of crime. But apparently I thought the reindeer would enjoy a warm blanket – MY warm blanket, the blanket I loved. My parents didn’t get upset about my giving with one hand and taking with another. For his part, my brother didn’t get upset, either, though maybe he did get a bit chilled.

So many decades later, I still have the blanket. I don’t drag it around as I once did, but I hold onto it with all the love that I hold onto my family. Perhaps it warms my heart because it’s a reminder that I’m loved, even when my actions are less than stellar. My family’s unwavering, unconditional acceptance helps me to comprehend what it means to be part of the family of God and to enjoy God’s unwavering and unconditional love.

Lynda K. Barrow

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