Do you have special people in your life that had a big part in helping you become who you are today?
I do. I have a lot of them. I have this big, beautiful family that has formed me in so many ways, I can't even begin to share them well. The picture above is my "Nonnie". She is my mom's mom. I adored Nonnie. I remember as a child that her house always smelled a little bit like stale smoke - I hated it that she smoked, but now there's something familiar about that stale smell. I don't like it -but it brings back memories.
Some of my favorite memories of Nonnie involve doing crafts, eating out, sharing holidays, and shopping. Nonnie always had crafts at her house for the kids. I loved the great variety of projects we worked on together. I cherish those memories and I hope that some day my children will have similar memories of their grandparents. Shopping was always a great adventure as well. We always listened to kids music (mostly Raffi) in her car. After shopping we inevitably had a hard time finding her car. The reason? "Humpty Dumpty stole the car again." I have NO idea why it was Humpty Dumpty - but it ALWAYS was.
I miss my Nonnie. She never lived close to us, but our visits were always very special.
I believe that this picture of my grandparents and some of my cousins (and myself) was taken at an aunt's wedding. Grandma and Grandpa loved their big family - 7 children, 18 grandchildren - and now nearly as many great-grandchildren. I was fortunate to live near my grandparents and most of my cousins when I was growing up. They were an integral part of my world from the time I was an infant.
My grandparents were an example of faith, love, and joy. They always had time to talk. They loved being with their family. When grandpa passed I remember seeing pictures of him all over the apartment - it seemed like he was always holding a baby.
Some of my favorite memories with my grandparents were watching birds, playing scrabble and yahtzee, sitting with them during breakfast devotions, and sitting for hours in the living room just talking. They were great hosts with a zest for life that I hope to imitate.
I want my children to have godly examples of living like I did.
These are my cousins (minus the youngest 3 and Pete is only there via photo). Again - they were a large part of my world as I grew up. We are a unique collection of artistic individuals. We were all privileged to have been raised in a loving family that knew how to do community. In times of need our parents stepped up to help each other out. It's amazing to see where life has taken us. I love each of these fantastic people so much.
I want my kids to be close with their cousins. When they look back on growing up, I want them to remember that family is a community. I want them to have fantastic memories of what it means to be part of a loving family.
These are my sisters - okay, one is ACTUALLY my cousin - but remember how I said that we took care of each other? Ashlee, in so many ways, is our baby sister. In fact, one of our foster sons (and a couple of our children) have thought that she WAS our sister. I like that.
These are our babies that were born in 2010. It was so much fun to have the experience of watching our bellies grow together - and now watching our little boys grow together. They will all turn 3 between January and April. My boys have cousins close to their age. I hope they think of them as close family that they can depend on as they grow.
It seems like so many of us have lost the connections we used to have with our families. Family seems to be a much looser term now than it was when I was growing up. The definition is changing all the time. I am glad to be part of a beautiful, big birth family. I am also glad to have family that was not born to me, but has been adopted into our lives. My kids have aunts, uncles, and cousins that are not at all blood related. I am so glad for those connections.
I'm sad too. We don't live TOO far from our parents and siblings, but far enough away that we don't get to see them every week, or even every couple of weeks. I wish that my kids were able to spend more time with these important people, building bonds that will not fade as they age. I am looking for new ways to help my children build those connections with their family. We want to ensure that our children know they are deeply loved, not just by us, but by their extended family. They are important and special. I pray they begin to recognize each person's uniqueness and celebrate it as much as we do.
If you are part of my family - thank you for who you are. We love you. If I haven't seen you for a while - know that I miss you, I pray for you. I am looking forward to the next time I see each of you.
How do you help your children make connections with your family? Do you have special traditions that help you keep relationships? Do you share recipes, stories, pictures?