As a kid I remember longing for two things – a family and to go on vacation. The two were clearly tied together because every summer, I watched my neighbors load up their cars with suitcases, then the family got in and they drove away together.
Families went on vacation. Vacations were for families.
I wasn’t an orphan, but my family was shattered. My mother and father rarely spoke without a fight and things between them ended very badly.
But to my surprise, a teen pregnancy led to a marriage, the birth of my daughter Kelly, then her brother Daniel. And in a few short years, I found myself with a bona fide family.
So of course I insisted on lots of vacations. And I didn’t care where we went. But the surprise I never expected was the many nights spent around the dinner table. The warm conversation. The uproarious laughter. The nights nobody wanted to leave.
Over the past few years, so much of what I did with my family has changed. I’ve lost Tim, Kelly and her family moved out of state, and in just few days, Daniel leaves for his families big move north. Not my idea of how a family is supposed to be.
Change – it’s never simple. Those easy days of having my family close by are gone, and I want them back.
As parents, our greatest hope for our children is for them to move on and develop families of their own. To take what we taught them and create their own traditions, go on vacations, and build their own lives outside of ours.
We’re supposed to want all that for them right? So why when it happens, is it so painful?
For the rest of my years, I’ll cheer on my children and grandchildren in whatever they chose to pursue. When possible, I’ll chip in toward any goals and dreams they hold dear to their hearts.
But secretly, I wish we all lived in a cluster of cottages on a hillside. All connected by a well-worn path to a big dining room with a giant table surrounded by enough chairs for all.
But until that happens, I’ll take this one day a year we call Thanksgiving. And I’ll gather my whole family (and maybe a few others) around a feast fit for a king. And I’ll celebrate the fulfillment of a little girl’s dream. And a God who saw fit to make it come true.