Few things in life are as comforting as being with family. And in this busy world, we often find ourselves needing to go our own way, leaving family behind at times, returning at others.
In this sphere of comfort, many of us remember the holiday gathering. Those with larger families may recall the laughter, children playing around while the adults cooked or played cards, drank beer, told stories that never happened or played along with the kids in a game of tag.
For some, like myself, these gatherings stopped happening long ago for one reason or another.
But, returning to these memories to say hello once more warms the heart of all.
My family has always been spread out across the country, but for a period of several years my mother’s side of the family, all her sisters and brother and all of my cousins, all found themselves living within a few miles of one another. Now, these times are long gone but when we were all within range, we had the best times I can remember.
The food always tasted better. The feeling of being home was present, alerting us all to the primordial essence that being in the family home will bring. The comfort was real, tangible and sound. These are some of my fondest memories, but over time, like many things do, they’ve faded.
We began moving away. And life took others away.
Some found jobs in other states. Others went off to college or joined the military. Some passed on from us forever. Hurricanes came and wiped out our homes, sending us to seek refuge all across the country. Others set out to explore for their own self-introspection. No matter the reason, we all found ourselves in different places, hundreds of miles apart, separated.
And just as simple as they happened, the family gatherings became fewer over the years. This is a truth that many families know all too well. Wholeness became emptiness as those at the table dwindled in number.
But sometimes the feeling of wholeness resurfaces.
Just the other day I was able to spend time with my son’s mother’s family for Easter. And during that short visit I felt a resurgence of those familial feelings, that sense of belonging and the comfort of being in a loving home. And I realized yet again, this is a feeling that I wish to have always.
I would love nothing more than to have a large family in my later years, to host the gatherings that I so loved as a child and throughout my early adulthood. To me, this couldn’t be a sweeter reminder of the love for all whom I care for.
One day, I hope it is true.
Until then, savor the aroma coming from the kitchen. Let your heart warm at the children as they smile, play and laugh. Embrace those around you, and thank those who have played a starring role in your story.
Pay your loved ones a random visit while you are able.
For we never know when the laughter may one day echo and vanish.