It’s just a simple word, family, but it means so very much.  The dictionary says it is the succession of persons connected by blood or name.  That sounds very mater of fact, and a little cold.  There is such a feeling of warmth that comes over me when I hear the word…I know it means so much more than that!

It means traditions handed down from one generation to another.  Traditions like making Christmas cookies and candy together, hanging your socks on the mantle, going to church on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, or The Night Before Christmas.  It’s traditions like giving plates of goodies to the neighbors, or writing letters to Santa.  It means many different things to different people.

But more than traditions, family means to me I have people who love me no matter what.  It doesn’t matter if I deserve it or not, or if I always do the right thing.  They love me unconditionally, the same way I love them.  They are there when I need an encouraging word, a hug, a smile, to share the little things of life, as well as the big ones.

When I hear family, I think back to my childhood and remember Mom sewing doll clothes for us, playing games, taking us sledding, making those Christmas cookies, and always her tender, warm hugs and smiles.  I remember Dad taking us fishing, riding, having snowball fights, his teasing, and his laughter.  I remember my sister and I sharing all the above together, and sharing stories, toys, beds, and fights!  We shared walks on the beach, and walks in the hills gathering acorns for our pet pig.  We shared a raft where we spent hours sunning ourselves and fishing.  We shared a childhood that was so special.

I hear family, and I think back to when my children were little.  I remember the dandelion bouquets given with faces beaming, picnics in hay fields, checking coyote traps, turkey shoots, and Christmas plays, 4-H ventures, riding on the U3, and Sunday all day videos.  Everyday was so special to me.

I often think the days of my childhood were the best days of my life.  They were carefree and light-hearted.  But then I think of the years when my children were young, and I’m sure they were the best years of my life.  They were full of so much joy and love, and I’m sure I’ll never have those kind of feelings again.

But God has fooled me. I am now a middle-aged wife and I’m finding a closeness to my husband that is deeper than I thought possible.  It is true that “the two shall become as one.”  The years have melded us together in a way that I don’t know if I could survive on my own anymore.

And just when I am sure that life could be no better than to have a great childhood, great marriage and children, and the privilege to watch them grow to generous, kind, adults, God surprised me again!  He gave me grandchildren!  They give a very special kind of love that I can find no words to explain.  The word “Grandma”  does not make me feel old; it makes me feel so loved and full that I’m sure there is no one luckier in the world than me.

A succession of people connected by blood or name?  From my Great Granny and Grandpa Craig,  Grandma and Granddad Craig, and Nita, Grandma and Granddad Wells, Mom and Dad, and Jean, Mike, his family, our children, and grandchildren, and the branches off the main trunk in every direction, I think I can say it is more than that.

Family, it is a simple word with a simple meaning….love!

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