WHAT IS A CHIVAREE?

In last week’s post I promised a look at our “CHIVAREE”, since we’re nearing our 55th wedding anniversary in a couple weeks. I wonder if the practice even exists anywhere these days. I haven’t heard of it in a very long time.

The term CHIVAREE comes from a French word, Charivari, meaning “rough music” and originating in the Middle Ages. It was a time of teasing or even taunting a newlywed couple, particularly if one party had been widowed and was remarrying too soon for propriety. Lots of loud music, banging on pots and pans, and noisy revelry was common.

The custom became so extreme that the Catholic Church ruled excommunication for following such practices. But by now it had already spread to Britain, from where it is believed it subsequently came to North America.

Also spelled “Shivaree” or “Sharivari”; to me, no matter how you spell it, this is one wedding folk custom I do not miss! I’m glad our daughters did not have to go through such “harmless fun”. Call me killjoy!

Meant to embarrass or even humiliate the newlyweds, CHIVAREE could involve simple fun, or get completely out of hand. “Okay, okay”, you say “but exactly what in the world is a CHIVAREE anyway?”

As I alluded to in a previous post, we did not experience it until the night of our wedding shower, which was actually a couple weeks after the wedding. The shower was given by family and friends of the church we attended in our small hometown.

I knew it was coming…and so did Mr E, who had prepared ahead and was in much better form than I was. In my own defense, I had grown up hearing about the more extreme cases of CHIVAREE, particularly that of my closest aunt and uncle.

Normally, there were some fairly harmless tricks played on the newlyweds, such as parading them around publicly and beating on pots and pans. The groom was expected to give out cigars or candy, but someone close to him was supposed to find his stash and abscond with it!

Then the couple would be teased and sometimes separated physically from one another while the party-goers would say they could not sleep together again until they coughed up the treats. There would be lots of noise and fun.

After we had eaten cake and opened all the gifts, our friends grabbed our arms and began to tease us and pull us out toward the street. I reacted, fearful and unsure of myself. I remember a sweet young married woman of the church whom I loved very much saying to me, “But, Carolyn, be a good sport; it’s just in fun!”

“Ohhh” I thought, “we’re not in the olden days. This is going to be okay; it’s just in fun.” Besides, Mr E was just laughing good-naturedly and going along with them. The first of many times in social situations where he has been my guide and good example.

Stories of a CHIVAREE ages ago, when my beautiful young aunt had gotten backed up in a corner by some intoxicated individuals, faded somewhat. She had pulled out what was called a straight razor to defend herself…and they relented and left her alone! She, like my father, was half Cherokee; and she was high-spirited and knew a thing or two. There would have been more than harmless teasing during that evening. But that was then…and this was now!

So I allowed them to plop me in the wheelbarrow, skirts and petticoats notwithstanding, and they made Mr E, good sport that he was, push me down Main Street. The local sheriff had been advised. He duly trailed after us with lights flashing and siren squealing. Family and friends followed afoot, marching loudly behind us right down the very middle of Main Street! It was surreal. We survived! I survived! And lived to tell the tale, as they say.

Have your family, friends or colleagues ever put you in an awkward situation you really couldn’t avoid? Have you ever felt uneasy, even somewhat threatened by social activities or events? Was there someone who spoke into your situation to help give perspective? Has anyone ever come to your rescue in an uncomfortable moment?

We are so blessed to know about the One Who has come that we might really live; without fear, without reproach. The Savior Jesus died that we could be adopted into His Father’s own household, the true family of God.

Here there is acceptance and belonging. Here there is forgiveness and joy. No tricks, no teasing or taunting, no need to feel uncomfortable or out of place. You needed worry that you know a certain protocol or belong to a clique that will help you get through the awkward times. Just amazing grace! May it be yours today, dear reader. Be abundantly blessed!

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RED & PINK, CHAU! WHAT COLORS NOW?

It first started in a little garage apartment near Downtown Tulsa. Family and friends had given us a shower and a “Chivaree” (more about that old custom in a coming post!) A well-rounded mix of utilitarian items, such as pots and pans, including some new to me–Corning Ware, five bath rug sets,linens, dishes, and some wonderful decor pieces were now ours to use or abuse. Yes, abuse! What else could you call letting the same pan, but different potatoes, scorch over and over again!

I’ve always loved art in so many forms and drew my way through many a notebook during Study Hall while in my high school years. Not to worry–I still managed to pass! Anything artistic was “right up my alley”.

When we married, we joined a book club. You promised to order x number of books in a year and you got to pick a couple or more books free, just for joining. We ordered a dictionary and a book about interior decorating that I remember. I quickly accepted the challenge to make decor an expression of myself. Many years would pass before my spouse would feel comfortable voicing any style preferences. We simply didn’t think about it.

In the early 60’s, in Oklahoma, young college-age hubbies didnt’t get into decor that much. However, the minute Mr E saw the brightly painted turquoise bedstead and nightstands, he firmly announced his parents had a set in their attic more suitable by far for the new residents of “Haven O’er the Garage”(my title–I like to name things. There would be over 20 residences we would call home during this union!) It cracks me up that people today are painting furniture, and anything else they can think of, that very shade of turquoise!

It was so much fun to have our own little rented haven to decorate and set up just as we wished. Open built-in shelves in the living room were soon adorned with a few volumes and a pair of sweet china vases, having a Victorian gent on one vase and his corresponding Victorian lass on the other. A decade later I would take these to South America to adorn our home there. Rather sadly, they never made it back nor have I seen similar ones in the flea markets I’ve haunted over the years. I’d be pleased to think they still grace some shelf in a cozy setting ‘way south of the Equator!

Our children became another factor in my decor decisions. Although they spent many years both here and abroad, I wanted our home to always have some familiar flavor to it from “the States”. Someday we would return to visit family and supporting churches and I wanted our children to see somewhat familiar settings and styles. I dreaded that they should ever feel out of place in their own culture and nation. If only I could have made their various transitions trauma-free!

While living in that world, I always incorporated local art and crafts in our homes because we have love Latin America and its people so much. I wanted them, to feel our appreciation of our host country during the years we were there, and to feel comfortable and welcome in our home.

The third factor was and is seasonal/holiday decor. Thanksgiving Day, for example, is purely a North American Holiday, with Canada celebrating it on a different month and day. A few European nations have harvest festivals and it would seem a few other countries picked up similar customs due to contact with our service men. We have other unique holidays, as Labor Day, President’s Day, etc. And Latin Americans have their Independence Days, Saint’s Days and many others. Some like Easter and Christmas we share, though customs vary widely.

I wanted our family to continue to observe our holidays, even though we lived south of the equator and therefore Easter was in autumn, Fourth of July was in winter, Thanksgiving was in Spring and Christmas was full-on summer! Any seasonal decor with spring blossoms, chicks and bunnies for Easter, as well as autumn oranges and Browns for Thanksgiving, or reds and greens with snow-scenes for Christmas was just a little off with the seasons reversed.

Now we’ve lived Stateside several years, the children have children of their own, and I’m probably changing the decor for them…and a little bit for my hubby and me. God gave us seasons. I try to enjoy the seasons of my days as I have enjoyed the seasons of my life.

So, what now that the pinks and reds of Valentine’s Day are going back in their bin? What color shall we pull out of the hat? Why, “robin’s egg blue”, of course! I hear the birds chirping and warbling out my windows pretty often these days. They love that there’s water in the birdbath and seed in the feeders.

It’s time to bring out the cute little nests with tiny speckled eggs and feathery birds who will not take flight. They will behave as they ought, in a proper living area; will delight the youngest grandchild, who knows about pretend, and satisfy some latent longing for a mossy tramp through the woods this country heart has known…in this world…and my other one far, far away.

Love Covers…

There are just no two ways about it–I acknowledge that I am unusually blessed! Don’t know why, because I surely don’t deserve it, but, oh, how grateful I am!

Married to a fantastic man for nearly 55 years (in March), with whom I share three beautiful children and seven, soon-to-be eight (in May) precious grandchildren. They are our joy and our crown!

Have you seen that commercial about a little bandage they place on an owie? They say “Love covers.” They also show a couple sheltering their tiny baby with an umbrella. Again–“Love covers.”

Yesterday I had out-patient surgery to help me breathe better, and had to have general anesthesia. Of course one cannot do this alone. My amazing husband was my driver, and then morphed into my competent nurse!

His myriad abilities cover being head our home, founder of an amazing educational ministry, a stellar organizer, a gifted administrator, teacher, facilitator and mentor. And various times over the years he has donned the invisible garb of my very own private male nurse!

It’s general knowledge that patients can be a pain, present company included! Nevertheless, this amazing hubby of mine exhibits rare patience, makes allowances, and sympathizes time after time. I always know I am in good hands! I just know it! His love covers me.

And that brings to mind something I treasure about this incredible guy: he’s a man of integrity. He’s committed to me and also to our family. What rest it is to my heart and what security to my soul! He looks after us all! He prays for each of us. He keeps open communication, and regularly updates everyone as to our activities and situations.

This is not the first time Everett has taken on my care. Years back, our vocation took us to Montevideo, Uruguay, in a region far south, known there as the southern cone of South America.

We had a vehicle paid for by the youth ministry of Northern Missouri; a Peugeot, whose parts were manufactured in France but assembled in Uruguay. We had waited months for this car…and I was in a wreck that would have totaled it if living in the States, but Latin American mechanics are famous for their automobile restorations! Again, we waited…two months this time for our vehicle.

In the meanwhile, I began to suffer constant pain in my body after the accident. Now you have to know how scarey it is to be in a wreck in a foreign country! They tell me I speak good Spanish, but I was quite traumatized, trying to deal with all that this entailed.

I just remember being in the left turn lane on a small avenue which had tall shrubbery growing right down the center. I couldn’t see anyone coming, so I pulled out and then BAM! I am thrown forward into a complete stop. Suddenly I’m looking over to my left at a very small vehicle, which was resting on its roof with its four tires spinning wildly round and round! Was the driver alive? Was there a baby in the car?

I couldn’t find my new glasses which I had only begun to wear. Had I forgotten them at the house? Did that mean I was to blame? That I had not seen the car coming because of not wearing my glasses? (Only later someone found them in the door pocket where they had fallen in the impact. I had been wearing them!)

I exited the Peugot to see what to do next. Neighbors came to see also. One very kind woman urged me to walk uphill to her nearby house where I could call someone–Everett-(no cell phones yet)–he was working from the house that morning so I could take the car; to simply go around the corner to buy groceries. He called our friend from the States, who was also in Uruguay with her husband.

An officer arrived, as well as the friend from the States. I wept nervously and wrung my hands, exclaiming over the new car we had driven only a couple weeks. The gruff-voiced policeman endeavored to comfort me, assuring me the other driver had, after all, gotten out of his vehicle “on his own power” and appeared uninjured. As for the cars, “Son fieros, no más, señora!” “It’s just metal, ma’am!” No lives lost!

They did take him to a first aid station, just to make sure he was going to be okay. Meanwhile, I had to be driven to the police station to wait, accompanied by my friend…and the officer.

A matê cup and thermos had been found in the front console of the little car, so the policeman was convinced the other driver was distractedly poring hot water from the thermos into the matê cup, thus causing the accident. (Yerba mâte is made from leaves of trees grown in that region and prepared as a type of tea. The Uruguayans are avid mâte drinkers!)

Although it looked like he was the guilty one, I was the foreigner and so the one on whom they settled the blame. But I was soon released and our friend took us home. All in all, you can imagine how traumatic it was for me.

After that harrowing experience, and another long wait for the car to be repaired, I began to have pain in both arms almost all the time. The local British-Uruguayan doctor put me on Ibuprofen for what he said was osteo arthritis.

All that to say how supportive my husband was, and how he did his best to help fill in the gap when I couldn’t keep up with the heavier household work. Once he brought our daughter and me with him on one of his educators conferences in the States so I had a appointment and received the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

It would be 12 years before I was divinely healed of that little-understood disease. Through it all, Everett’s love covered me and sometimes covered for me.

In years to follow, we have each had our surgeries, total knee replacements, and removal of a kidney for him; rotator cuff surgery and thumb surgery for me. Now it’s surgery to help me breathe better. I have to rest. I find I have to hold my head up or my nose bleeds. Never mind. He’s got me covered!

Does this sound like a fairy-tale? Most days it is! What feelings does it stir in you? Have you ever felt covered by someone’s love, someone’s protection? You can have, not just the feeling, but the actual experience!

The sacred Scriptures assure us that God wants to be a husband to widows, surround the childless in a home, and be Father to the fatherless and orphans. He cares for you! So deeply. Christ spilled His innocent blood to be the covering of your sin if you will just ask. And then He promises to cover you with his feathers as a mother hen covers her chicks to shelter and protect them.

Love covers. “And greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down His life for His friends.” Again, “You are my friends if you do whatever I have asked you.” Let the “Lover of our souls” cover you. He longs to do just that!

Why I Love Valentine’s Day

My husband sometimes says we met at a Valentine’s party…which isn’t exactly true…but since we neither one remember when we first laid eyes on one another, it’s as good a time as any to remember.  

It was actually at a Backwards Valentine Social that our church gave for the young people, which was held at the small community center in town.  The premise was that the girls would help the guys with their chairs, their coats, etc, being the chivalrous ones instead of the guys.

Everett had been away at the university and had not seen me for a while.  But this night, he did see me!  Because I was the one who held his chair…& then pretended I would pull it out too far!  And when it came time to clean up, I grabbed the broom out of his hands!   And when it was time to put on his coat, I held the sleeve closed at the cuff!  Oh, yeah!  He saw me!  Perhaps for the first time, really saw me.  And he tells me now that he thought, “She is really a feisty little thing!”

Since he had been away a couple of years, he hadn’t known that I was finally coming out of my shell.  I have to say that I was only like this in the familiar safety of church-related functions.

At the high school he and I had attended, I was very shy and quiet; but the church was my oyster.  There I sang in choir, taught a Sunday School class & even sang in a trio did an occasional solo.

My older brother Wallace and I frequently went to area youth events, and soon Everett was going along with us.  In another few weeks, he and I had our first date.  So I’m sure you can readily understand that it would only be natural for me to love Valentine’s Day!  Especially since I ended up with the very best Valentine of them all!