My children are home for their winter break, which causes a bunch of chaos around the peaceful empty nest homestead my husband and I blissfully occupy when they are in college. As I feel the pull of my kids wanting to cut ties and live their own lives, I also feel the tug on my heartstrings and keep up my mantra these days –Families are a blessing. I understand the pull as I went away to college myself and came home on breaks every year for the winter and summer – though as I spread my wings, my visits became shorter and shorter. I live 500 miles away from my closest blood relatives and see my family only once a year most years. I try to make the important milestones such as graduation and baptisms, but mostly my ties to my family are forged during my holiday visit. As the holidays approach, and the family gatherings happen, I keep up that mantra – Families are a blessing. When my kids ask if they have to go, I remind them that they are lucky to have the family and that they only see them once a year, and that the family is a blessing.
I know they will find mates, and though their grandmother travels to visit them, most of my family doesn’t ever travel to visit us – even for milestones because we are so far away and they have their own busy lives. So I wonder how much longer my children will have a tie to them. I don’t resent travelling to visit my family, and I don’t resent their not travelling to see us. Everyone will make up their minds about how important those ties are and they can’t be forced. So I try to keep the ties knotted as best I can while knowing they will unravel sooner or later. My kids are troopers. The most interesting development is that they resent when the loyal family members don’t make it for special events, but don’t expect those who don’t travel our way to ever make it. To those who get the resentment, I apologize, but you are the ones my kids miss the most and I appreciate every time you have been here.
For my mother in law’s birthday, family travelled from all different directions to pay tribute to her, because they understand that funerals aren’t the only time we should all gather in honor of someone. We haven’t had a gathering like that in years. Most of my husband’s family lives semi in the area. I have one sister in law that lives much further than any of the other siblings. She travels to family events when she can, and never fusses that no one comes to her home. I salute her. I think she knows that families are a blessing and so she tries to keep her family knots tight, but having her own daughter in law and grandchildren it’s difficult to close the distance gap for family visits between her children and her sibling’s children. I think someday I will have to make choices about travel and family when my kids have their own children too.
I don’t resent the travel to visit my family and my in-laws. We have one time a year that I offer dinner to the family (unless there is an event – such as a graduation, then it’s twice). I don’t expect people to come though the invitation is there. Every year I hope I will have some company, and my brother in law, his girlfriend and my husband’s mom usually are there without fail, for that I am grateful. I don’t resent the people that aren’t present, they have their own children and grandchildren, so I understand completely. It’s because I believe that families are a blessing that I understand.
When the family is gathered together for whatever holiday or gathering is happening, I will raise my glass for a toast, or hold your hand for grace and think of all of you who travel. Everyone who goes to visit the family homestead to keep those knots tied tight, I salute you.
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