Here we are again, in the thick of the holiday season and all that it holds. Shopping and presents, decorating and lights, baking and Christmas crafts, parties and events, music and caroling, and most of all, of course, being with family and rejoicing in Christ and how He came to this earth so long ago. Those last two are the most important to me. I never want to lose sight of what this season really is celebrating, and as long as I can celebrate that with my loved ones all around me, I don't care how many presents are under the tree or whether the mini-loaves of iced cranberry bread turned out all right.
Thanksgiving always kicks off the holiday season, and this year we were very blessed and surprised to be able to spend it with my side of the family here in our new home. We had a whirlwind three days of laughing, staying up late, talking, playing games, eating, and just enjoying being together again after so long. The wonderful time that I had with them just made me realize all over again how much I love my family-- and by that I mean ALL my family. My family as it is today is an amazing and ever-growing group of people that are woven into my life as tightly and cozily as a beautiful blanket.
Growing up with my two sisters, three brothers, and mom and dad was fun. We spent a LOT of time together-- being homeschooled and living in small towns where there was never that much to do made sure of that. My mom was (and still is) a great cook, so we ate a nice dinner together almost every night. I have so many great memories of those childhood days and the family time we spent together-- the silly and crazy things my siblings and I did, the nights of sitting all piled in the living room to watch a movie, helping my mom in the kitchen, my dad coming home from his study at church to eat lunch with us all, spending evenings at my dear grandma's house-- so many, many different things. Today, it is all very much changed. We are more scattered, not able to be together all the time. My sisters, who at one time were the pesky little girls who used to sneak into my room to steal my gum are now two of my best friends. Two of my brothers are amazing men with responsiblities all their own. And the baby of the family... well, he is NOT a baby anymore, but will be a teenager, a young man himself before we know it. Still, these brothers and sisters, my mom and dad, they will always be such a huge part of my life, no matter where we may all go or how things may change. They are the ones I grew up with, the ones that first shaped me and taught me and made me who I am. God used them as a foundation to prepare me for the things to come in my life.
And then.... I met Jeremy. I fell in love with him. I married him. And with our marriage, we not only started our own little family unit, but gave our families to each other. Through my husband, I gained another mother in my life, another strong woman to teach and help me. My friend became my sister-in-law, and today we can both truly say that the "in-law" hardly exists, we have grown so close and dear to each other. Another grandma was added to my life. And I was given cousins, and aunts, and uncles-- all things I did not get to enjoy much of when I was growing up. These people, at one time mere accquaintances to me when Jeremy and I were first together, are now dearer to me than some of my own flesh and blood. They are truly family to me, each one with their own unique place in my heart . And oh, the fun we can all have together!
One of the biggest blessings has been to grow our own little family. Sometimes it still blows me away: we are a family of four (for right now anway-- the Lord may grow that number as He sees fit)! A little family with its very own dynamics, traditions, love, and memories-- those already made and the many, many more yet to come as the years pass by, Lord willing.
It is amazing and wonderful to watch our family grow and change. New children are being added; my brother Tyra found out he and his wife are expecting, so come June we will have a new little niece or nephew to welcome into this group of people. God has graciously given to our brother and sister Luke and Jessica two children. These little ones, Faith and Jason, are not only some of the most lovable and adorable little kids you will ever meet, but also an amazing testament to the providence and care of the Lord. We have all waited (none more so than they have, I am sure) a long time to see this blessing come to Jessica and her husband, but it has been well worth it. When you become so close to someone it almost seems as if the desires of their heart become the desires of your heart as well-- and that is just one reason why seeing them with their children brings me great joy.
So this is my family. Each person so dear to me. Each member unique in their personality and worth. Each year bringing us closer amidst new changes and circumstances. I don't know what the future holds for these people I love so much, but I do know this: I am grateful to be wife, mommy, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, auntie-- to more lovely people than I could ever have imagined or hoped for....
.... and I can't wait to enjoy this holiday season with each of them in one way or another.
P.S. I know, I know, this post should be accompanied by many lovely pictures of these memories and people, but I couldn't get it to work the way I wanted it to, and couldn't find the pictures I wanted anyway. So you, dear readers, will have to content yourself with only my words for now. :)