#family

ENCHANT

 

It’s called ENCHANT…the world’s largest holiday light event experience…with a 100 foot tall Christmas tree…Since it was in St. Pete we decided this is one light show we have to see.

 

As we entered we were greeted by a truly wondrous sight…

immediately surrounded by music and completely immersed in lights.

 

Santa, his reindeer, and Mrs. Claus were there to add to the joy we were feeling…

A constantly changing rainbow of lights was everywhere we looked…there were even blue whales hanging from the ceiling.

 

But what made this evening special to us…enhancing its already wondrous charm…

was when he happened upon a young mother and father with their newborn in their arms.

 

Their smiles were enough to illuminate the stadium…they didn’t need 4 million lights.

Their baby, only one month old, was swaddled in an outfit of red and white.

 

I was born and raised in the Catholic religion…in Ohio…close to the Bible Belt…

so my first thought was to wonder if they were feeling what Joseph and Mary felt.

 

We paused a while to talk with them…then calling on the vast experiences we’ve amassed…Deborah advised them to enjoy every moment with their son…because he will grow up so fast.

 

As the two of us silently left the light show…together…hand in hand…

I smiled knowing the wisdom she shared with that young couple…they will one day understand.

 

There will come a day the two of them…like the two of us…with children now fully grown…

will, perhaps, be attending the largest holiday light experience…together…on their own.

 

It is a fine line we walk as parents…wanting our children to develop…praying they will grow…but every now and then wishing time would stop…or at least…for a moment…slow.

 

Which reminds me of when an old couple was asked…

What’s the happiest part of raising a family…this was their reply…

The happiest part of raising a family is watching them grow up and change as time goes by….

 

And when asked what’s the saddest part of raising a family…

They smiled and just as quickly exclaimed…

The saddest part of raising a family…

Why our answer is the same. 

 
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HIS GRANDMA

 

His grandma was there when he was born…

or so his family told him.

After all the family had their turn, the story goes, 

she was the last to hold him.

 

They tell him how his grandma held him in her arms…

how she gently rocked him side to side…

they tell him how she smiled…they tell him how she cried.

 

His grandma was there to teach him about life…how to love…and how to give.

His grandma believed a world of peace, love, and acceptance is where we we’re meant to live.

 

Even as they both grew older and spent more time apart…

his grandma’s arms and eyes and ears were always open to him…she called them the gateway to her heart.

 

He was there when his grandma died…

after his mom and dad…he was the last to hold her.

“I love you Grandma. I’m going to miss you.” were the last words he ever told her.

 

As he held her in his arms and gently rocked her side to side…

his family will remember how he smiled…how he cried.

 

For, as he held her that last time…

the same way she held him at his birth…

he wondered what life would be like if Grandmas ruled the Earth.

 

Through their eyes perhaps we’d see everyone as our sister and our brother…

Through their ears perhaps we’d begin to listen a little more to one another.

 

Through their open arms perhaps we’d find a world of peace…

without a need for war…or guns…

where children are not left without parents…and parents without daughter and sons.

 

Of course he can’t be sure what life would be like if, from the moment of our birth, the politics were different…

and grandmas ruled the Earth.

 

But what made him cry and smile that day

as he said his last good-bye

was holding her and thinking to himself…

perhaps it’s time we try.

 
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THANKFUL FOR MY FAMILY AND ALL THE FAMILIES OUT THERE

 

 

I mentioned I am thankful for my house, my friends and how important they are to me…

Today I’d like to add how I’m thankful for my family.

 

I’m thankful for my parents, my brothers, my children, my grandchildren…my wife…

I’m thankful they have miraculously found their way into my life.

 

There are some people who mistakenly think the traditional family has been disbanded…but as for me…I like to think…its definition has expanded.

 

Divorce brought our two families together…and though at times it can be complicated…

when our two families joined…a new family was created.

 

It’s not the ‘traditional’ family we were brought up thinking of…

but it’s a family, like every family…built on trust and fueled by love.

 

Consistent…unconditional love…which is not always as easy as it sounds…

but it is what makes the family flourish…what makes the world go round.

 

If this type of love and caring a family comprises…

then it stands to reason…families…can come in many shapes and sizes.

 

Parents can be together, divorced, single, young, old…even the same sex too

which means families can be traditional, untraditional, extended and come in different hues.

 

I think as time marches ever onward…the definition of family will always be changing

never constant in its makeup…but constantly rearranging.

 

To those of you who think the family is dead and no longer the way your God designed it…What if the family is thriving and your God just redefined it?

 

I am thankful for my family today…for their love and all the things their love can do…

and I know tomorrow…whatever my family looks like…I’ll be thankful for that too.

 

Perhaps, one day, we won’t care what a family looks like…

what parents we’re assigned…

which makes me wonder if, all along, that wasn’t part of God’s design.

 
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SEARCHING FOR SYMMETRY

 

 

Our family is a blended family…two families blended into one…

I brought a son and a daughter into ours…Deborah brought a son.

 

When we blended our families together…

I gained a son and Deborah gained a daughter.

We tried to make the blending smooth…like pouring water into water.

 

One of the wonders of family is how they continue to grow…

how nothing is affixed…

for along the way we’ve aded four grandchildren to the mix.

 

Not to mention friends who have become family along the way…

So we never really know what our family will look like at then end of every day.

 

Through the years, in spite of the friends and family we’d import…

the symmetry of our family was always one daughter short.

 

And we were comfortable with this obvious lack of symmetry…

until our youngest son found love…and invited her into our family.

 

Now we have a second daughter…and she has another Mom and Dad…

and our first daughter is blessed with the sister she never had.

 

Our eldest grandson also found his love…please…stick with me everyone….

because this means we now have two granddaughters…to go with three grandsons…

 

You get the picture…With each new family member…we’re adding to the blend…

and it is beautiful knowing this is a process that will never end….

 

And we look forward with excitement to what our family will tomorrow be… 

as we blend together for the rest of our lives…in search of symmetry

 
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ONE FAMILY'S TRADITION

 

 

It is a family tradition…age-old and time-worn…

the family comes together after a bay has been born.

 

In a solemn moment with the family gathered ‘round to see…

The baby is passed from the mother to the father…

to the eldest member of the family.

 

“I offer some advice.” The elder one says

as he or she cradles the baby on his or her knee.

“Not everything you see in life will be beautiful…

but there will be beauty in everything you see.”

 

“One day.” The elder smiles.

“You will understand these words I say…

how not every day will be wonderful…

but there will be wonder in every day.”

 

“It is our hope as a family that you come to realize…

before your time is done.

how even though not everyone you meet will be kind…

there is kindness in everyone.”

 

“Happiness can be elusive..

That’s how our creators designed it…

but happiness is also patient…

waiting for someone like you to find it.”

 

Next the baby is passed around from aunts, to uncles

to nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers…

until making his or her way back

to the father and the mother.

 

Each family member quietly departs 

and as they set foot out the door…

they smile…remembering words they’ve heard a hundred times before.

 

Words they’ve come to know by heart…

for often in their minds…they will replay them…

so they’ll be ready when they are the eldest…

and it comes their turn to say them.

 
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UPS AND DOWNS

 

 

There are times I don’t want to be reminded (as crazy as it sounds)

how life is always changing…how it’s a series of ups…and downs.

 

We’ve seen many things in life that have made us laugh…as time’s gone by…

We’ve seen many things that have made us weep…that have brought tears into our eyes. 

 

We had just spent a beautiful day together…and…as that day came to an end…

We received the news that cancer had invaded another friend.

 

We’ve felt the joy of friends and family and pets who have taught us how to fly…

We have felt the sadness and the pain of when it came time to say goodbye.

 

I’ve been lucky in my life for whenever an up or a down has found its way to me…

my first thoughts have always landed on my friends and family. 

 

I think of life as a roller coaster ride…and again…as crazy as it sounds…

I use to think the best I could do is hold on tight through all its ups and downs.

 

But I have come to realize the best way to enjoy this ride…

is to experience every up and down…with friends and family by my side.

 

Whether holding on for dear life…or riding with my hands up in the air…

it’s nice to look around and know my friends and family are there.

 

So to my friends and family…it its any consolation…

as you ride your roller coaster of life…I offer this revelation…

 

When the ups of life have you feeling joy

or the downs have you feeling blue…

look to your right…

or to your left…

I’ll be riding next to you.

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THE BEAUTY IN EACH ONE

 

 

We saw her again this morning…as our walk came to a close…

alongside our neighbor’s fence…a solitary rose.

 

Alongside this fence…year in…year out…is, invariably, where she grows…

reminding us of the beauty that exists within a single rose.

 

Every year, as her bloom returns, she is a welcome guest…

reminding us how another year has past…

and how our life is truly blessed.

 

We often think how our children and grandchildren have set our world aglow…

how lucky we have been to watch our family grow.

 

But each year as we welcome back this single rose…as her pink bloom we, once again see…we take a few moments to think about each child and grandchild…individually.

 

We think back to the day they were born…remembering moments in their life along the way…and we marvel at the person they were…and who the are today.

 

We find, when we take the time to look at each child…

although, each year, the person we see has been revised…

we are never disappointed and always pleasantly surprised.

 

Looking at each child and grandchild this way…

listening to each individual voice…

in each moment of reflection…allows us a moment to rejoice…

 

Which is probably why a single rose blooming along a fence

when she returns can evoke in us…a feeling so intense…

 

For when we take the time to look at each person

through their trumps and their woes….

we understand and truly appreciate…

the beauty of each rose.

 
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SATURDAY MORNING

Every Saturday morning always begins the same for me…standing in the kitchen I’m flooded with memories.

 

When our children were little…and whenever grandchildren came our way…Saturday morning at our house was always pancake day.

 

Saturday morning was when my creativity and artistic talent was thoroughly tested…as I’d make pancakes in any shape and color our children or grandchildren requested.

 

Some of my creations were more Impressionistic…others were a little less than breathtaking…but I’m proud to say no request was ever rejected in all my years of pancake making.

 

I like to think that, every now and then, on a Saturday morning our children and grandchildren think of me…and think about the branch we grew upon our family tree.

 

And how that branch connects to all the other branches…back through the annals of time…helping to make our tree strong and transcendent…noble and sublime.

 

I hope they’ve learned this lesson…deeply rooted in our family tree…

that an adventure is exactly what a family is supposed to be!

 

And how a family, again like my pancakes, on this my children and grandchildren would agree…is never flawless…never perfect…but…they don’t have to be.

 

You see, no pancake I created was ever perfect…but they did have a kind of flair…and as long as they resembled the request…our children and grandchildren didn’t care. 

 

Because when it comes to family, just like those pancakes made every Saturday morning throughout their childhood….

It’s the time spent together in their creation…

that makes them taste so good…

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THE MASTERS AND MY DAD

 

 

When we add a memory to our life…of a special moment…a special day…how can we ensure that memory will live on…that it will not fade away?

 

I imagine it’s the nature of memories that some will bubble to the surface…never to dim or fade…triggered by a photo…an aroma……a word…that awakens the moment that memory was made.

 

While other memories we nurture every chance we get…of a moment…a day…a time…we never want to forget.

 

My dad and I were never close…although the bonds between us were never broken…it’s just any love we ever shared was usually unspoken.

 

My dad loved to watch sports, however, and one day on a whim…I sat down to watch the final round of the Masters tournament with him.

 

As was customary we watched in silence…golf balls flying through the air…but I was filled with this feeling of comfort knowing he was sitting over there.

 

As I said it was something we didn’t talk about…something we’d never ever exclaim…but I like to think when Dad looked over at me…he was feeling just the same.

 

That became our yearly ritual…no matter what plans I had…one Sunday in early April every year I’d watch the final round of the Masters with my dad.

 

It is a memory I cherish…to this very day…and one I am determined to nurture so it doesn’t fade away.

 

My dad’s been gone for many years…but that hasn’t stopped me yet…every year on a Sunday in early April from turning on the TV set.

 

And watching, in silence, the final round of the Masters…golf balls flying through the air…remembering those precious moment as a child with my dad sitting over there.

 

If anyone were to ask me what I’m doing…perhaps they might think me mad…

when I smile and tell them…not much…just watching the Masters with my dad.

 

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