I'm continuing my series of posts about mindfulness and intentional gratitude. This week's post is about family.
I'm supposed to believe that the word "family" can apply to just about any grouping of people. That's what all the children's books I read at work tell me. Families can have one parents or two parents or stepparents, or you can be cared for by grandparents or aunts or uncles or other relatives- that can be your family. Sometimes a family is just two people- a child and a guardian. A two-person "family" makes sense in that context, but for some reason, I have a hard time thinking of myself as living in a house with my "family." In my head, just Brandon and I together doesn't really fit that word (and I know some friends call their pets their "fur babies" and treat them like family- I love Gimli but that terminology just does not work for me.) When I'm asked about my family, I still think of my mom, dad, and brother (and then move outward from that) even though I haven't lived in the same house as them in over five years. This week I'm supposed to write about my family. I already talked about Brandon in my previous post- so now I will tell you about the family I used to live with (and to which I still belong.)
I say this kind of often on facebook, but I am so thankful that most of my family lives nearby. That in no way minimizes my love for my family members who live far away- I just realize that not everyone has it as good as I do! I have always been surrounded by family, even though my family is not really that big (certainly not compared to Brandon's!) My family has always been there, and I hope they always will be. My mom, dad, and brother still live in the same house we moved into right before Jonathan was born, in 1992. When I was a kid, my mom's parents lived just down the street. My dad's parents lived about 10 minutes away, in good traffic. Sometimes I estimate that growing up, I spent almost as much time with extended family as I did my parents. Unless mom and dad were on vacation, one of my grandmothers would pick me up from school. I never went to daycare and never had a babysitter, that I can remember. We stayed with them during spring, summer, and Christmas breaks. Sometimes on the weekends if something special was going on, like inventory at my mom's bookstore (dad helped out with that, too.) And since throughout most of my childhood, I spent a lot of time with my cousins, too. At one house was my mom's nephew, and at the other was my dad's niece. There was no scenario in which I had to take the bus home from school, or come home to an empty house, or not be able to go somewhere because I didn't have a ride. I've always appreciated the benefits of having a close family close-by!!
I think I appreciate that now more than ever. Holidays can be pretty crazy for Brandon and I, since pretty much everyone lives in the same city. We have five Christmases within the span of 24 hours!!!) But I wouldn't trade it for anything! I'm never going to be alone on a holiday. I'm not going to have to worry about getting "home for the holidays," because I'm pretty much already there. If we have a need, someone is close by. When my wisdom teeth desperately needed to escape my mouth, my Mammaw took me to meet with the oral surgeon and took me back to have the surgery shortly afterward- and made sure I got in bed OK, since I was stumbling around pretty pathetically because of the anesthesia. My dad took me out to buy our new microwave a few months ago (and Brandon's dad came over and installed it!!) My mom stops by every once in a while when we are strapped for cash with a bag of groceries, and adds in fun stuff she knows I'll like, like nail polish and peanut butter M&M's. My uncle came over to check things out when all the snow finally melted and we saw that there was an important-looking part dangling off of the underside of my car. I get to see most of my family throughout the year, for all the different holidays (and sometimes just for fun.) The list goes on and on.
I am so incredibly grateful for my family, and the fact that I can get to almost all of them within 30 minutes, if need be. The next time you are with your family, take some time to really savor the time you have together. Pay attention to the little things they do that make you smile or laugh or even cringe. Whatever family you have, whether you were born or adopted into it, married into it, or your family is made up of important people that you're just really close to, they are a gift!!