A family legacy of connection

Family has always been important to me.  I grew up living within a few minutes of all of my grandparents and all of my aunts, uncles and cousins except for one of my dad’s brothers who lived about an hour away.  We got together on holidays, birthdays, vacations and regular days.  I loved that.

This is a Christmas photo from my childhood. We have many like it both from my mom's side of the family (as pictured here) and my dad's side. I pray that my children will know, love and appreciate all their family members and make many good memories as I have.

These days it’s changed and some of our family has moved away.  Relationships sometimes have ebbed and flowed a bit and we’ve sadly said good-bye to a few loved ones who have passed on, but most of us still find chances to get together.  Since having children, I value these relationships all the more.  Watching my daughter enjoy her great aunts and uncles blesses me.  Seeing her run off and play with my cousin’s sweet 11-year-old daughter makes me smile.  These are her people.  These are my son’s people.  These are my people.

I was thinking about this over the weekend as I held my baby boy while at a family function with lots of extended family.  My great-uncle pulled out his violin and was playing “Amazing Grace.”  I’ve grown up with such fiddle music at family functions.  I looked at my boy in my arms and my daughter a little ways away playing with my dad and my heart was content.  These are our people.  Like the country song says, this is where we come from.

Just like I wrote about a while back in seeing the southern gospel legacy pass on through my husband’s family, I want this legacy of family connections to pass on to my children.  Here’s the thing about close extended families: they can drive you crazy sometimes, but they’re always there.  I have laughed with one of my second cousins about this very thing.  They drive you crazy, but when you really need something, they’re there.  When my dad’s life hung precariously in the balance a few years ago after an accident, the waiting room was packed with family from both his and my mom’s sides.  They were there for us to give us hugs, shed some tears, bring us food and whatever we needed.  They show up.

I want my children to understand this connection. I want them to enjoy the time with their extended family.  It’s important.  Family reminds you who you are and where you’ve come from.  Family reminds you that there are people who love you and will be there for you when the chips are down.  At least, that’s what family should do.  I know there are families who aren’t this way.  And I would be remiss to not mention how blessed and thankful I am to be surrounded by good people who I call relatives.  Sure there are always a few who could use some improvement, but I am blessed to have so many good people in my life.  I want my children to know them.  I want them to get excited when they see their great-uncle Norman coming with doughnuts.  I want them to dance when their great-great uncle Lowell pulls out his fiddle and plays a tune.  I want them to enjoy cuddles from their great-aunt Nancy.  I want them to run and play with their numerous cousins of varying degrees.  I want them to savor delicious desserts prepared by their great-aunts Glenda and Melanie.  I want them to buy their first cars from the car lot their great-great uncle started long before I was born (the same one, in fact, from which we got the vehicles that brought each of them home from the hospital).  I want them to have what I had growing up.  I want them to have roots.

These are the sorts of the things I thought of when I held my sleeping boy this past weekend as our family hustled and bustled around us and my great-uncle played his fiddle.  These are the thoughts I had watching my son being passed between his cousins and great-great aunts.  These are the thoughts I had as my daughter played with her cousins, and great-great aunts and uncles.  They’re not new thoughts.  I’ve had them before in watching my aunts hold my babies.  I just am reminded time and again of our blessings.  I’m reminded of my family’s legacy of connection with one another.  And I am compelled to pass this legacy on to my children.  I pray they always remain close to each other, my husband and me and their extended family.

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