Saturday, October 6, 2012

Life Story: The Early Years

I don't remember much about life before the age of seven, but my memories of those early years are happy ones. I was born to a dad, a mom, and an older brother of nearly four years. I was also born four weeks early, which seems funny (and a little bit ironic), because as it turns out, I have never arrived early for anything since! I am a perpetually late person (a fact which drives Boss crazy), but I suppose that I just couldn't wait to get a jump start on life. I also know that I was very much wanted. My parents were a bit older when they married and it took them a few years to get their family started. My mother had a miscarriage shortly before she conceived me, and I have often wondered at the thought that if she hadn't miscarried that particular child, then I would not exist.

My parents named me Kendra after my father, Ken. Kendra Leigh Ellis. The truth? I have never liked my name. And even to this day, I dislike introducing myself to others. My favorite name as a child was Tasula, and I spent many an hour dreaming about what it would have been like to have had a beautiful name like Tasula. Or Leslie. I was a fan of Leslie, too. My mothers other name choice for me was Summer, but she finally concluded that Summer Ellis sounded more like the name of a terrible disease, rather than the name of a little girl, so Kendra eventually won out.

When I was two months old my family moved over seas to Saudi Arabia. My dad was in oil, and when the opportunity arose for the transfer, my parents decided to take it. I admire that about my parents. They weren't afraid to take a risk, to leave behind everything that was comfortable and familiar, to chase opportunity and the life that they desired. They just packed up our family and we went. Or maybe they were scared. But they didn't let fear stop them, and that is what I admire the most. (I can't tell you how many times I have allowed fear to stop me from chasing my dreams.)

My mom likes to remind me that I spent my very first Christmas, December of 1982, in a double wide trailer, our Christmas tree a piece of green and brown felt that she attached to the wall. And you know what? Even though I don't remember that Christmas (obviously), that is one of my very favorite stories from my childhood. Because it speaks of simplicity and creativity. Two things I think every heart longs for, whether that heart belongs to a one year old, or someone who is thirty. We may not have had much that first Christmas we spent in the desert, but together, it sure did seem like we had it all.

My other preschool memories include typical childhood activities. Swimming, eating pizza at the snack bar, eating Popsicles (a lady sold them in ANY flavor you could desire in those little paper water cups that were shaped like a cone), playing with little friends who lived down the street, Daisy Troop, and holidays. Holidays were a BIG deal when I was small. Halloween, especially. We would plan our costumes weeks in advance (my mom would dress up, too!), and then the whole elementary school would have a huge parade. Holidays have always held a happy place in my heart.

Apparently, we took AMAZING trips during the early years of my life. Pity that I don't remember a thing about them. We visited Egypt, Africa, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Hawaii (twice), New Zealand, Singapore, and I am sure many others that my brain is having trouble recalling now that I am thirty. Want to know what I do remember about those trips? Souvenirs.That's right. Apparently, I was a souvenir junkie. And my most treasured trip souvenir? A hot pink fanny pack with black palm trees from Hawaii. Yes, please. And every year we would come back for a re pat to the United States where we would visit extended family and shop for things we could not buy in the desert.

Other random things I recall from my early childhood in the 1980's? Tee ties, those large plastic ties you could wear on the end of your shirt. Slap bracelets, Keds, neon colored striped socks, our tiny church that was made up of other believers. And I can't forget the homemade birthday parties! My mom would do it all. The cake, the games (duck duck goose, pin the tail on the donkey, jelly bean toss), and we ALWAYS had a pinata. My mom rocked it in the birthday department.

We moved back to the States in 1989 right after I had finished Kindergarten. I was seven years old. My family took one of the last flights out before the fighting in Desert Storm began.  People in the compound where we lived were beginning to practice drills that involved gas masks, so I believe my parents decided that it was time for us to go. My mom and dad wanted to live anywhere but in Texas, so we headed to Atlanta Georgia, where the next part of my story picks up. Although that is another story for another day.

I once read somewhere that childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons, and for me, I can honestly say that was true. I may not remember much, but when I close my eyes and travel back in my mind, I can feel the comfort, protection, belonging, and innocence. Everything that a young child should feel. So I thank my parents for that. For my strong, happy, carefree beginning in this world. Because foundations are important. They set the tone for the entire structure that is being built. My parents gave me the right footing on which to build my life, and I now strive daily to do the same for my own precious children. I want to give my children the best of the very best. I want to give them this great, big, amazing world right at the tips of their fingers. I want to cook them delicious homemade meals, to surround them with rich books, meaningful music, wise conversation. I want to lead them on adventures, to inspire creativity in their souls. I want their months to be filled with memory making, each season of their lives steeped in tradition. I want to serve them the good life on a silver platter, complete with a bright red cherry on top. Except for the fact that I don't like cherries. So at our house, life would simply be topped with hot fudge. But whatever. You get my point. I want to make this season of my children's lives beautiful. Just like my parents did for me.

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

1 comment:

Ken Ellis said...

Thank you for your gracious comments about your Mom and me. You were special as a child and will always hold a special place in our hearts. God blessed us with a beautiful little girl who is now a beautiful woman both inside and out. And your husband and children are blessed to have your loving, inquisitive, and nurturing spirit to share with them as you walk down the pathways of life. My prayer is that you will remain faithful to your beliefs and continue to be a godly influence on all that have the honor to call your friend. Dad