This past summer I spent three days with my children in my parents’ hometown – Fergus Falls, MN. We moved around a lot as children and Fergus Falls was the one consistent place I could call home. My grandparents lived within walking distance of each other and we spent many hours in their homes reading books, dressing up, baking, and eating.
While I was there, I intentionally took lots of photos of my childhood haunts. When I posted a few of them on Facebook, a friend of mine expressed hopes that I would write a blog post sharing about these places. However, because these places hold so many memories of family gatherings, faith and togetherness, I wanted to save the stories for a series on this new site.
This is the first installment in this series. I hope you enjoy it!
This is the childhood home of my father. This is where my dad grew up and where I grew up. It was here this summer, on this very stoop, that my grandmother inquired if 3 days alone with my children in their small town was going to be good for me. My reply was, “My soul needs this.”
Many an evening was spent on this front stoop. I remember when we would sit on the sidewalk, snapping snapdragons and getting scolded for putting things in the metal milk bin. This summer I watched my children race cars down the driveway and run races around the house with the very same tumbles down the hill to the backyard. These memories, these rituals, are the very foundations of who I am. These familiar places are as holy to me as the sanctuaries of the world’s greatest cathedrals.
No matter where I was in my life, what I had, who I was with, I wiped my feet outside the heavy wood door and was welcomed with open arms into the warmth of the house. I was always met with the smell of something yummy – cookies, crispy bars, turkey soup, fried eggs and toast, or chow mein casserole.
This is the only home from my childhood to which I still have access and perhaps, its residents are the two people in the world who know me best and accept me at my worst. My grandparents. They teach me love, justice, joy, faith, and mercy. They teach me that I am enough.
Chow Mein Casserole (Apparently one of my dad’s favorites – and now Thomas’!)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 can cream of celery (or cream of chicken) soup
- 1 can chicken and rice soup
- 1 1/2-2 c. water
- 1 c. chopped celery
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice
- 1 bag dry chow mein noodles
Brown ground beef and chopped onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cream of celery soup, chicken rice soup, water, celery, soy sauce and uncooked rice. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Stir casserole and top with chow mein noodles a half hour before to crisp. Serve with more noodles.