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Archive for June, 2009

FAMILIES ARE SPECIAL

              George Santayana:

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces”

 

This summer, I’ve been blessed to participate in two family reunions. 

 On the second Sunday in June, we attended Greg’s family reunion in his hometown of “Pop City” North Carolina. (Note: I am invoking copywrite approval for the following paragraph since Greg wrote it last year but I served as editor.)

Pop City is situated on U.S. 264 Alternate and “sprawls” across eastern Wilson and western Greene counties. But before rushing out to locate Pop City on the map, let me save you the time. When Greg first met my father and told him he was from Pop City, my father immediately went to a National Geographic atlas and, upon not locating said municipality, jokingly accused it of being a “fictitious” place.

I can vouch for Greg that it is very much real, and somewhere very special.

Too many people in the family there have passed along, and we miss them very much. But going to the family reunion each year reminds us of the importance of family throughout our lives. (Selfishly, it also reminds me of the fabulous Eastern North Carolina barbecue, homemade cakes and pies, luscious lima beans, corn bread and fresh fruit salad.)

In early July, we’re also having a very special reunion on my mother’s side of the family. None of our parents are alive any more, but we will remember them, too, at our first-ever sisters-and-cousins reunion. I will be turning 50 in July, and we’ve planned a special long weekend at a hotel and spa in Charlotte.

Our reunion will have a theme of the ‘70s, when we used to spend summers at our Grandmother’s house in Brooksville, Florida – a charming Victorian village near Tampa. My mother’s family has a very long heritage, and we’ve spent much of this month making copies of DAR and Civil War documents, not to mention sending Civil War daguerreotypes to a specialist to restore and copy. All of us are going to bring all the ‘70s memorabilia we can find, including my worn out Jim Croce record. (Note to the younger generation, if you don’t know what a record is, think of it as a really big CD).

Even though there are few members of our family left, and my sisters and cousins live far away, we are lucky to be able to have extended family, spouses and children together to remember old stories and learn more about our family roots.

Indeed, families ARE special, and here are just some of the reasons:

  • Family is a very important part of our every day life. It helps shape our lives, teaches us the value of love, affection, care and thoughtfulness.
  • It’s a place where you can be yourself.
  • Family provides hope for future generations.
  • It teaches us morals, manners and proper use of the English language. (As my sisters can attest, my mother was a ‘Politeness and Grammar Nazi’ – which, of course, has served us well into adulthood.)
  • It also helps you gain confidence and learn skills and tools you’ll use the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, there also are downsides within certain families. Some people might inherit serious or fatal diseases, and, of course, we grieve when a family member passes away. I am lucky because all I inherited is ticklishness and superstitions. (Thanks to my grandma and mother, to this day if I walk out the front door and go all the way to the back yard, I retrace my steps so I walk inside the same door I originally left.)

 In all seriousness, however, today’s society views family as a haven from the world, a place for fulfillment, love, intimacy and trust. It allows us to escape the competitive, rough-and-tumble landscape around us to find warmth and tenderness.

 Families have the added benefit of having children and watching them grow (overnight I might add.)  But that’s part of God’s plan. Children turn into adults and, with good family support, become wonderful grown-ups.

One of the most important changes in families in our generation has been the explosion of new forms of communications, whether you’re close by or across the world. When I was growing up in the late 1970s, we had two hard-wired phones in the house and were limited to three minutes per call. Today, we have cell phones, cordless phones, Facebook, e-mail and more.

(I have to confess I like this approach. I know you’re supposed to prepare handwritten notes to friends and family, but my handwriting is harder to read than the last row on an eye chart, so this gives me an easy way out.)  And, with airplanes and reliable cars, we have even more opportunities to see family and loved ones in person.

Our family is especially fortunate. Not only are our two wonderful children well on the way to independence and adulthood, Greg and I have stayed very much in love. In fact, we recently had a small “27th” anniversary party, celebrating our marriage in 1982. It was as joyous as the day we exchanged rings.

Of course many families don’t have the benefits others do, and we should remember to pray and support those who don’t have any relations, or those who are on their own — hungry, hurting or friendless.

Growing up in a loving family is wonderful gift from God, and provides all of us an opportunity to help others, whether they are blood relatives or not. In fact, in a broad view, everyone around the globe is part of a family: God’s family. And that is a blessing in and of  itself.

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