I kept hoping for a lightning bolt of inspiration to write something that would totally inspire everyone for the 2008 holiday season! It didn’t happen. But what kept coming to mind was that we can’t have flashes of inspiration on command. It happens when it happens. What does happen, on command however, is love for my family and friends. It’s always, always there, no matter what. At any given moment I can think of my Mom, Dad, sister, brother, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, old friends…and what do I feel? Love. Pure, unadulterated love. We’ve been through a lot together, but we will always, always love each other. And pride. Plenty of pride to say that this is the family I come from, and these are MY friends.
So why is it that my family seems to go through a lot of crap (and I mean A LOT!), and come out the other end still caring for and loving each other? How is that possible when other families let the slightest little thing keep them apart for years and years? Here’s my theory. They don’t have the bond of family that we have going through the years, and they don’t have the love of God behind their family love.
When I think of family and love, the very first thing that comes into mind are Sundays growing up, going to church and eating family dinner. When I say family dinner, I don’t mean just me, Jane, Alan, Mom & Dad. I mean every one of Dad’s brothers and sisters and all of my cousins. It was just what we did every Sunday. I can distinctly remember before Alan was born, we lived in Greenville, 30 miles from church and Mama Nan & Papa’s house. Mom got up and cooked green beans and ham one Sunday for her part of the dinner and off we went. Dad dropped us at church and went on to his parents’ house. Unfortunately that particular day Mom forgot about the green beans on top of the car and they landed somewhere along the road on the way to church! 🙂
After Sunday School and preaching, off we all went to Mama Nan & Papa’s house. We were all together for at least those few hours every week. Papa was a church deacon, and Mama Nan was a Sunday School teacher and president of the WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) at our church. From the time I could understand anything, I was taught about the love of God, but more importantly, I FELT and SAW the love of God in my family every single day.
How did I see and feel God’s love? I remember when I was in 8th grade they split the gifted students up from the ones who needed more attention. I was separated from all my friends who I had been in class with since 4th grade and was devastated. I came home that day and cried and cried to my Mama Nan with my head in her lap. She hugged me, rubbed my head, and told me that it would be ok; my friends were still there and I would make new ones. And she was right. It was okay.
Being the first grandchild, I got to experience this love for longer than any of the other grandkids. Even though I am ever so thankful for this, in a way I feel guilty that the other 10 grandchildren didn’t get as much time as I did. The first three years of my life there were no other grandchildren! I know that I was spoiled rotten by my grandparents, my parents (particularly my Dad!) and my aunts and uncles. My Dad’s siblings were 13, 15 & 17 when I was born. All that love has certainly set the tone for many choices I’ve made in my life. I don’t settle for less than that in any relationship, be it friend or romantic. I waited until I was 35 to find the right man. He has continued to spoil me, not because I expect it, but because that’s the person he is. He gives of himself just like I learned to give of myself. I not only give of myself in my marriage, but in my friendships. If you are truly my friend, I love you and give of my heart to you.
I’m saying all this this Christmas because it’s a time of love and giving. While I don’t have much to give in the material world, my gift to you this Christmas as family and friends is the love I grew up with, from my heart. You are special in my life and I look forward to many more years of making memories and sharing my life with you. You have supported me through some rough times this year which I’m still in the midst of. Thank you so much for your prayers and good wishes!
Have a wonderful, very Merry Christmas with all of your family and friends!