Family has always been a very central point in my life. As a kid, I would often choose to stay home and hang out with my family rather than go out with friends. My best friends all through school were my little sister and my big brother. Almost all of the trouble I got into involved at least one sibling or cousin.
When it was time to move on to another phase of my life, my mom, aunt, and grandma were my “wedding-in-a-box.” They were my decorators, caterers, DJ, photographer, florist, tailor, and baker. My bridesmaids were my sister, two cousins, and my sister-in-law-to-be. My husband’s family was a perfect extension of my own family. They fit together like a perfectly formed jigsaw puzzle, and there has never been any strife between them.
When it was time for my first child to be born, my brother and sister-in-law almost beat us to the hospital. Our whole little crew crowded the hospital for all 9 of the kids born between my siblings and myself. My mother-in-law flew in from Bermuda to be there for the births of all 3 of my kids.
Yes, I believe family is very important. I believe kids should grow up with their siblings and cousins as their best friends. I believe that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and great grandparents should be the babysitter whenever possible. And I believe that being with family is the greatest way to spend time.
Sunday is my absolute favorite day of the week. It is the day that my kids unplug (by my choice, not theirs). We all go to church in the morning and see my parents, grandma, and siblings with their families. For supper, we all meet at my parents’ house for our weekly family meal. During the summer, this is often a picnic on the lake while we fish and play water sports behind the boats. In the fall, it is a campfire roasting s’mores and hot dogs. In the spring, it is grilling brats, burgers, and chicken and watching the kids eat as quickly as possible so they can get back outside to ride 4-wheelers, go carts, and dirt bikes. In the winter, it is a warm meal around the big dining room table.
No matter what season or location, it is a blast. There are usually at least 18 of us that my mom cooks for. Sometimes we have extras including, cousins, visitors, and friends. You can quite often find the kids riding around outside or hanging out with the animals in the barn. The ladies are often goofing off in the kitchen or the garden. And the guys are…whose knows where doing who knows what! Sometimes it is playing paintball or target shooting. Sometimes it is cooking maple syrup down or even catching up on some much needed sleep on the couch.
During and after the meal, there is talking. We talk about serious topics and solve world problems. We argue, tease, and make jokes. And we tell stories. As the kids get older, they stay a little longer for the talking before going back to play. It is amazing to just get to relax and spend time together.
Is it always a picture perfect day? No! People get hurt, mad, offended, and irritated. We don’t always get along. I have had to apologize to more than one person more than once in order to save a relationship. But it is all worth it to watch my family laughing until they cry because my brother is telling a story we have all heard a dozen times and keeps getting more crazy every time he tells it.
Cherish the time you have with your family, and try to make more time that you are together. Those are the times that you and your kids will look back on and remember. Those are the stories that will be told over and over again and passed on to the next generation.