Today is my mother’s ninetieth birthday. Sunday we celebrated with a big party. While we didn’t have the entire family there, it was well represented. My sister, Shirley, flew in from Washington. Her husband, Curt. had surgery a few weeks ago and wasn’t released to travel, but was there in spirit. My brother, Rick drove down from Pine, Colorado. That meant that my mother had all three of her children with her for her birthday. Shirley was accompanied by her daughter, Tara. My brother’s daughter, Andrea, drove up from Phoenix with her two daughters–Danyka and Rachel.( I’m always thrilled to see Andrea who followed in my footsteps and became a special education teacher.) Tara and Andrea, together with my two children, Mike and Kirstin, accounted for half of the eight grandchildren. Danyka and Rachel, along with my grandson, Chris, represented the eleven great-grandchildren. Mike’s wife, Vikki, and Kirstin’s fiancé, David, and my husband, Craig, rounded out our family group. We were also joined by many of the residents of my mother’s home who wheeled themselves into the dining room. They helped us sing happy birthday, ate cake and ice cream with us, and watched my mother open her presents. After an hour of celebrating, she returned to her room for a much-needed rest.
I insisted that our out-of-state guests stay at my house so we would have time to visit. It was the first time the three of us had been together in more than a decade. We had not slept under the same roof for over forty-seven years. So many miles and so much living separated us, and yet we found we shared a great deal of common ground. My sister and I observed that although my son and her daughter had grown up a thousand miles apart and had only seen each other on rare occasions over the years, they are very much alike. Both are confident, successful adults with high-stress jobs. Together they were a kind of tag team, taking turns entertaining us with their outlandish stories and their knowledge of football.
The miles, we discovered, are just geography, and the years seemed to melt away as we talked and discovered our bond as a family is stronger than ever. We all felt fortunate to be able to come together for a happy occasion. We know full-well, that at other times in the future–hopefully the distant future–we will come together for not-so-happy occasions. It was a wonderful time together and I will cherish it forever.
I have a rule to never venture into a store on Black Friday. This year I will be going on a 6.8 mile hike around Goldwater Lake with Mike and Vikki. But for those of you who must, I wish you well and offer this bit of advice. As you sit around your Thanksgiving table, plotting your daybreak assault, just remember that there is nothing in those stores that is remotely as wonderful as what you already have–your family. Embrace them. Tell them you love them. Reach out to those who are far away. Cherish those blessings that we so often take for granted. Have a happy, blessed Thanksgiving.