Relatives—persons connected by blood or marriage. Most of us are born into a family and later realize we also have relatives—distantly connected family. Holidays, birthdays and other mile-stone life-events reinforce this until we realize we have a whole gaggle of them—relatives that is!
While there are innumerable jokes and proverbial groans about relatives at holidays, I have to say I am deeply grateful for each of mine.
Thanksgiving was—and continues to be a milestone event in my life. My third one found me in the family car en route to visit grandparents in Houlton, Maine—a four hundred mile trip from home. A mile from Gramma’s house life changed in a flash—a collision of milk-tanker and car claimed my father and sister’s lives, and injured the rest of us severely.
While my mother and sisters recovered in hospitals and the homes of relatives, I stayed with various friends-of-family. For nine months. Nine months to a three-year-old is forever. One week is at least a year. And tomorrow is as elusive as the twinkling stars. Fear, bewilderment and a growing determination to be ‘gooder’ were my haunting inner voices—ones that have taken a life-time to silence.
But this is about relatives, and being grateful for them. I am. Some of my caretakers weren’t blood-relatives, in fact, most weren’t, but they mothered, and comforted, nurtured and cared when a tiny orphaned girl was most needy.
In later years, others taught me by example that there were other ways of doing-and-being than what I was seeing in my fractured home-life. They taught me joy and exuberance, gratitude and acceptance, and in some subtle inexpressible manner, I know they also taught me the deeper meaning of love. Not only for my fellowman walking beside me on this varied path of life, but more importantly for God.
A mere teenager, I would choose to marry my childhood sweetheart and thus be immersed in yet another family—these being marriage-relatives. They were noisy, boisterous, joyful and wonderfully verbal—all very new and somewhat overwhelming traits for me—but more amazingly, they welcomed me with unconditional, heart-on-the-sleeve love.
Many years have passed and equally as many life-events—joy and sorrow interwoven in the truest sense. God has blessed us with three daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren--all of whom I love and cherish.
Still I am grateful for relatives. We gather today again for our annual Hare Thanksgiving, needing a hall now since the clan has grown to such numbers that no private home can contain us. Each of us has our idiosyncrasies and foibles, and yes—opinions too, but I am grateful for each these family-relatives.
Let’s face it, we’re all relatives—every one of us traceable thru thousands of generations, to the beginning. So to all of you… my dear family-by-blood-or-otherwise, I’m thankful for you.
Wishing you all a wonderful pre-holiday weekend!