Belonging

Now that my family is scattered, and Tim is gone, I really treasure all those old family pictures. In the 70’s and 80’s, Tim and I did what most families did; we dressed ourselves up and gathered in front of a pull down backdrop at an Olan Mills Studio. The backdrop selection was so slim, it wasn’t uncommon to go in your neighbor’s house and see a large framed photo of their family, arranged just like yours, in front of the same backdrop.
As our kids got older and moved away, it got harder to get them all together at the same time. And that was especially true during the 5 ½ years Daniel was in prison.
Every prison has an assigned photographer who, for a small fee from the inmates commissary fund, will snap a quick Polaroid. But Kelly and Dan lived out of state. And inmates tend to wear funky clothes. So those pictures weren’t usually the hanging on the wall type.
 
But all during Daniel’s time in prison, Tim and I were determined to do whatever it took to make sure he still felt like a part of the family. So we attached those awkward prison photos to our Christmas card and we moved on.
 
But by the forth year of Daniel’s sentence, I really wanted a family photo where Daniel didn’t stick out. Where we could look as natural as possible, so I came up with a plan.

 

Kelly and Dan were home for Thanksgiving, and after a bit of convincing, I got everyone to agree to my scheme. Dan was the most apprehensive. Especially since my plan involved all of us dressing in “prison blues.” 

So, on a chilly November day, the four of us went through the usual pat down. Stunned, all Daniel could seem to say was, “This is so cool.” When we marched to the photo station we arranged the chairs as if we were in our own living room. Then we smiled from ear to ear. I went back to our seat with my Christmas card worthy picture tightly in 
my hand.

 
 
We all have a need to feel we belong. And families are the greatest place to have that need met. As we head into this holiday season, as parents, we have the opportunity to lead our loved ones in extending the grace necessary to build bridges.

 
Jesus did it for us on the cross, so the least we can do is pass that grace on to those we love.
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