Awhile back, I received a lovely email message to start my day. It followed an annual reunion of my husband’s family and is from a cherished cousin I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years. Family is important to most people, but we hold a deep appreciation for the stability it brings us. Being a military family for so many years, we clung to our families and relatives as a constant thing in our lives amidst changes in residences, climate, culture, schools, churches and friends. We received chopped up time periods in friends’ lives, only sharing 2-4 years together before adding their names to a Christmas card list in an effort to hang on to invested relationships. In contrast, we watched relatives grow up and are now watching their kids grow up. There is joy in seeing familiar family faces each time we are able to be together.
So, yes, we will drive the 7 + 3 hours to reach the remote spot in our country where one part of our family meets for two days out of the year. And yes, we will go to the trouble of making homemade desserts early, freezing them, and then transporting them in a cooler during that 12-hour trip just so we can share something from our home. We will show up looking haggard and they will love us anyway. We will marvel at how everyone’s children have gotten even taller and their faces look older and we will be eager to hear about all of their accomplishments since the last time we saw them. We will be grateful that we hit pay dirt when it comes to relatives.
Through the years, they have held us together as individuals, as a couple, and as a family. One side of our family’s lineage includes stone masons who constructed landmark buildings well known in an area of our home state. But each side of our family are masons of a sort. They fit between us as mortar, not dividing us but as glue bonding our lives together. They also tie together our past, our present and our future. They are us and we are them and we share a secure and safe little corner of the world. I am forever grateful for the gift of family.