We can't think about Thanksgiving and not think about the number one thing that makes our lives rich, family. The words here cannot convey the love we feel when our family gathers for celebrations, in times of crisis and when it is time to say good-bye.
After battling cancer for the past year and a half, ABN's brother passed away Sunday evening. We were able to be with him for a few hours Sunday afternoon. When we entered his home we were greeted with tears and hugs from his wife, seven children and their spouses, most of his 14 grandchildren and some of his great-grandchildren. This is a blended family but not a typical blended family. As these seven children were growing up, it was kind of like the Brady Bunch. Now that they are married with children, it is more like a cult. If you didn't know the family it would be hard to distinguish who is a cousin, who is a sibling, and sometimes who is a parent and who is an aunt or uncle. It is a true example of it takes a village (or in this case a family.) We have never heard the word step-parent or step-anything used to describe a member.
So, how does this blended family enrich our lives? If you have to ask, you have not been a recipient of one of their magnificent hugs! You have not ever said "I need you to come and.....whatever the need might be. You have never attended the famous fish fry or a family reunion at my brother's home. You have never heard them say "I love you" and know they mean it. We feel fortunate that 39 years ago Mary and Ray decided to blend their families and found the secret to family harmony. My brother and his wife have left a legacy of family closeness that will no doubt transcend generations.
Family does not necessarily mean related by blood. Living in a town hundreds of miles from our nearest relatives, we are still part of a family. Around 20 years ago, Captain moved to our town and started attending church. The church had a shepherd program where members adopted the new folks in the congregation, helping them blend into the fold. Captain became fast friends with his shepherds,who at a later date adopted ABN. For 20 years we have been a part of this family, sharing holidays, a grief journey, celebrations, disappointments and MANY meals. We love our local family every bit as much as our blood family. On this Thanksgiving Day, we will be celebrating our shepherd Jean's 80th birthday in her daughter's home with the entire family.
As we gather around the table today, we will give thanks for family.
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