Monday, December 28, 2009

The gift of extended family

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Andrew and Naomi...
And a Savior to set us all free....

My four grandparents may have passed away many years ago, but they do a great job representing the idea of extended family.

I told a story about my mum's mother - Grandma Lily - just a few weeks ago; she's the one with the Promise Box (Nov 30). She raised my mum and her siblings in East London during WWII, along with my Grandad Arthur. Arthur was a "jack of all trades" and when they were older they shared our house on Avereng Road in Folkestone, England.

My dad's parents were Connie and Fred. Fred Maul and his father started F.W. Maul & Son, Ltd., the business that defined family life for many years. I have great memories of large family gatherings at their house in Rayleigh, just north of the Thames River in Essex.

All that goes to make the backdrop for the traditional "Boxing Day" gathering my side of our family enjoys the day after Christmas. My mum still prepared most of the food, but this year it was held at my niece Hannah's home in Sarasota. She and her husband, Andrew Roberts, did a great job of hosting - with the help of my brother, Geoff.

Geoff asked everyone to share "Something you're thankful for and one thing you learned during 2009." Everyone opened up their hearts and my dad made my mum cry (in a good way!). Dad came through very serious surgery this fall, and we're all extremely grateful for that; but in general there was far too much in the way of gratitude to even begin to summarize here.

The learning part ranged from my dad's wonder at how (in the hospital) "they can take you apart and put you back together again," to my new-found appreciation of Italy, Andrew's extensive travels, and some of the stuff that has come across Hannah's desk since she started working in child welfare for the state.

Rebekah and I have hosted so many parties and gatherings over the past couple of months it was good to sit back and watch everything go on around us. My "great-niece" and "great-nephew" Haley and Hudson enjoying the day; my parents soaking up their great-grandchildren; my brother so proud of his daughter and her children....

It was a coolish sixty-degrees out (don't laugh, my northern and mid-western readers!), so walking a couple of miles in the afternoon was most enjoyable. No agenda, just a long saunter with family who simply can't get together as often as we'd like.

So that' s my not so deep and insightful blog post for today. On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me an extended family.

... Gifts, by the way, are supposed to be enjoyed, not just visited on special occasions.... Something to remember.

My greatest gift is still Rebekah, and the amazing opportunity we have to live and love and serve and have fun together. I'll never get over how blessed I am, and how good our life is in terms of faithfulness, mutual commitment, and joy...

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