I’ve just returned from a family reunion in the village in New York State where I grew up. Ours is a small family by most standards—my father was an only child and my mother’s only sibling never had children. But my two sisters and I produced twelve grandchildren, ten of whom were at the reunion with their husbands and wives and significant others, along with all eleven great-grandchildren and a few family friends.
My dad and sister Bonnie are in heaven now, and are always greatly missed. But Mom, the grand matriarch of our tribe, savored the day with her reunited family and eleven great-grandchildren, including the newest family member, baby Maceo, not quite one year old.
Our nuclear family, mostly ethnically-German, now includes a mix of cultures and traditions added on through marriage—Dutch, Italian, Irish, Jamaican, and Israeli. Imagine the smorgasbord of great food this produced! We watched a fireworks show courtesy of my nephew David, and we all sang karaoke, thanks to the computer expertise of my nephew Leland. We hated for the day to end.
From Karaoke to Shakespeare—a few nights later my sister Peggy, an English professor at a local NY State University, took my mother and me to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to see a wonderful performance of “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
We ate a picnic supper on the lawn overlooking the Hudson River before the outdoor play began, sharing our love of words and literature and Shakespeare’s plays.
Then… from Shakespeare to line dancing, and in this, my sister and I are very different! She has been taking lessons and invited me to attend her class one evening. I gave it a try and had a great time—laughing and stumbling my way through the dance steps.
My sister and I also spent a gorgeous summer morning hiking around Lake Minnewaska and enjoying the views from the top of the mountain. Our love of nature and hiking come from our grandparents who lived in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania.
Finally, I spent an enjoyable evening with a local book club, meeting at the library where Mom once worked as the librarian. (Can you think of a better childhood for a writer than “growing up” in a library?) I had a great time with this group of avid readers discussing my novel, Candle in the Darkness.
Now I’m home again, reflecting on God’s gift of family. They’re the people who helped shape me and influence me, and I always come away understanding myself just a little better after I’m with them. We’ve been through good times and tough times, through joys and sorrows and struggles. We’ve prayed with each other through battles with cancer and other illnesses, through a sad divorce, through times of unemployment, and the pain of distant separations.
We celebrate our common heritage but also our individuality and uniqueness, serving God in many different occupations: as teachers, homemakers, computer specialists, college professors, car repairmen; in the armed services, in sports medicine, as a school principal; a musician, a paralegal, a police detective, a graduate student, a heavy equipment operator, a librarian, a writer, and as parents and spouses. Yet we are alike in our faith in God, alike in our desire to serve Him with our many gifts. And all of us are thankful for our family—for the love we share for each other and for Him.
How do you like to celebrate with your family?