Thankful Thursday: Week 3

It’s Thankful Thursday! This is the third week of my 52 week gratitude challenge, and the prompt for this week is family.

I am so thankful for the gift of family! My little family (Jeff and Jack) is my greatest gift other than my salvation, and I love them so much.

I’ve also been blessed with a wonderful extended family, and through marriage, a huge group of new relatives to love. My family has always been really close. We get together multiple times every year to celebrate holidays and birthdays, and when I was little we even went on some vacations together (with my grandparents, my great aunts and uncles, and all of my cousins). I’ve always loved having such a close family, and I think being born in such a small town, where we all lived within a 15 mile radius of each other, made it so easy for us to be close-knit.

Now, we don’t all live in the same small town and it can be harder to find time to visit, but we still get together for holidays. It’s always a loud gathering with 30 people crammed into someone’s living room, talking about hunting or shopping or cooking or babies or small-town gossip (for those of us who don’t live in the small town anymore and have lost out on all the drama). We eat, play cards or dominoes, exchange gifts and recipes, eat some more, and then hug everyone and say goodbye to everyone in the room at least twice before we go home. I’m excited for Jack to have his first big family get-together next week when we have Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ve always loved hearing stories about my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from when they were younger. At most of our family gatherings, I usually end up sitting around with a bunch of the older people, just listening to them talk about the “good old days.” I’ve always been fascinated by the way they used to live and the things they used to do (like my dad riding his bike from his house out in the country all the way to town and back when he was little, which I never would have been allowed to do). There’s something so comforting about hearing stories from back then and getting to know relatives that I don’t remember well or never met through stories, and my family is made up of some great storytellers.

I think one reason that I have always appreciated family so much is because we moved around some when I was younger, and it was hard to keep friends. When you leave town (in the time before Facebook and cell phones), it’s hard to stay connected to people and stay in their lives. But with family, we were always able to reconnect during the holidays and it was always so good to know that, no matter where we lived, our family was our home.

Even now that I’m an adult, living away from the small town where I grew up, I still feel completely at home when I go to visit my extended family. I know that I can call on any of them at any time and they will be there, and I would do the same thing for them. I love having that support system, and it is something that I have had in my life for so long that it is easy for me to take it for granted.

Shortly after Jack was born, after we had been visited by countless family members in the hospital and at home, and after my mom and Jeff’s mom had stayed a couple of nights to help us figure out what to do with a newborn (because we had NO clue…we still don’t know what we’re doing), Jeff asked me how in the world people could ever do this (have a baby) without family. I honestly don’t know. I know people who don’t have the wonderful support system that Jeff and I have, and they make it somehow, but I don’t understand how they do it. I have always relied on my extended family for so much, and I find great joy and comfort in the relationships that I have with them.

I really hope that Jeff and I can help make sure that Jack develops meaningful relationships with his extended family members. It’s hard these days with so many extracurricular activities going on for kids, but I really want Jack to get to know his cousins and enjoy spending time with them like I always did when I was a  little kid. Family is such an important part of my life, and I want to pass down that love of family and traditions and values to Jack.

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How are you thankful for your family? Let me know in the comments!

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