Still not really in the mood for politics. A little too close to Christmas, I suppose. As well as still suffering from post-election nausea. But, mostly feeling so warm-n-fuzzy sentimental that it's hard to go on the attack. However, I do want to "talk" about something important. Just important in a different way than my more common subjects.
I've been thinking a lot about family. As many of us do when this time of year rolls around. Family and holidays, especially those like Thanksgiving and Christmas, just seem to go arm-in-arm.
I've been blessed in my life to have met many generations of my kin. And, I now have five grandchildren, so my blessings go both ways along the branches of our family tree.
When I was born, there were five living generations, in a direct line of one branch. When my daughters were small, we had six living generations indirectly and five direct lineage in two branches. With my grandchildren we currently have six generations indirectly and four in a direct line on my side. So, we know much of our family tree personally and hear about some family history straight from those who lived it.
I was blessed to meet and remember four of my great-grandparents. My daughters got to meet, and can remember, two of their great-great-grandparents, as well as four of their great-grandparents and three of their grandparents. These kinds of connections can make an impact on how you view family. It becomes a very personal relationship because they are real people, not just names on paper or faces in pictures.
I spent time the homes of my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As did my children. My grandchildren have spent their share of time in our home, as well as the homes of other members of the family.
We do things together. We have family traditions that have come down through the generations and others that are more recently begun.
While I mostly think of my husband, children and grandchildren, when thinking about family nowadays, thoughts of parents, grandparents, and siblings do arise. I was lucky to have four of the most incredible grandparents a child could have. It was wonderful to introduce them to my husband when the time came that he joined our family. And, I was thrilled that all of them lived long enough that both of my daughters got to know them.
I have six siblings, but only grew up with three of them. The others are all younger than my own daughters. But, I have many cherished memories of growing up with two of my brothers and one of my sisters. Most importantly, I still have very close ties to the brothers I grew up with. They are an important anchor to life, because they help connect past with present and future. They really do remember when ... 'cause they were part of it.
A sad note again this Christmas, and every Christmas, is the estrangement we all share from my oldest little sister. She has made choices that have placed walls between us. But, that does not lessen my love for her.
I think family is the most important thing in the world. Both my earthly and my spiritual family. I know I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father and I know He sent His Only Begotten Son to atone for my sins. This time of year I rejoice in celebrating the birth of my Savior, my brother, Jesus Christ. I also find joy in sharing this holiday with members of my family here on Earth. Because of my faith, I believe family spans the eternity. Eternity is a difficult concept to imagine sometimes. However, family traditions, and the generations who share them, break it down to manageably understandable pieces. At least it does for me.
I love to see traditions from my family and my childhood now being passed along to my grandchildren in my daughters' families. At this time of year a very silly one, cherished by all of us, comes to mind.
When I was a little girl my father would blink the Christmas lights to let Santa know I was going to bed. I remember us doing this. My husband and I continued this tradition with our daughters. And, now, it is being done for my grandchildren. I am very excited that we get to participate, once again, in that tradition at my oldest daughter's home this Christmas Eve.
We will also help our granddaughters with a few other family Christmas traditions. Cookies and milk will be put out for Santa. We will read "A Visit from St. Nicholas", as well as the Christmas story from the bible, in Luke, chapter 2. Things that we did in my home, our home, and now their home. Traditions. As enduring as family itself. Signs of love passed down the generations.
We share other traditions. Some old, some a bit newer. I collect Santa pictures and have a quite a wall full of my daughters and now my grandchildren. It is always a joy to receive a new one, even those a little less conventional than others. A slightly newer tradition is going to see Christmas lights as a group and then stopping for dessert after. And, another tradition that sorta started when my girls were teens and then got revived when they were adults, is making gingerbread houses with family and friends. Always such fun to see what creations come about from each very fertile imagination. But, whatever the age of the tradition, it is something to share across the generations and that makes me cherish it. For me, it makes our family tree a living growing entity, not just a list of names on a piece of paper. At this time of year it is a Christmas tree, with all the trimmings. Truly a joy to behold! I wish for all y'all a very merry Christmas! May your hearts and homes be filled with joy, peace, and love. May you have great happiness with your family, be it those folks you are related to or those friends you have gathered along the way. God bless all!
© Suzann C. Darnall, DECEMBER 2011 UPDATED