I think we can be fairly protective of the things we treasure. Which would explain why I’m quite ready to defend the honor of my family at all times, which might seem unnecessary; you would be surprised at all the shade, side-eye, underbreath comments and judgment that comes our way. My family is a mess of odds and nds, we’re missing pieces and have too many of others. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. My appreciation and delight in my family has come a long way.
I remember fifteen year old me, fearful of what my youth group and church members would think of me. I was the only one with divorced parents. I didn’t want it to be my problem, but the people around me seemed to think it was. Heads up people, asking a kid how her parents are doing every time you see her really gives the impression that there’s a big huge problem. And you putting the problem in big sparkeling neon lights doesn’t help, nor is it appreciated. Needless to say there was a bit of “let me try to hide this thing from everyone”. Yikes. But things switched. I started to grow this big huge pride for my thriving family of five: mama, brothers , and me. We were strong, we were fierce and we got shit done. We still do. That’s where the fierce pride for my family began, being proud of who we were and who we were becoming. We had been broken down to the core, our foundation was shaken and cracked and we were still standing. For a few years it was just us [and the supporting family we still had]. As we began to heal and figure out our identity as a unit we somehow added people. Now what was five is more numerous. It’s a whole bunch of odds and ends that makes up this beautiful extravagant mosaic of family. They are the strength, the heart, the compassion and silliness that I can’t stop thanking God for.
I’m writing this because in my hour of time with God this morning the only thing I could do was say thank you over and over, rejoicing in this gift he has given me. And here’s what started that ball of praise and thanks: As stated yesterday, it takes a lot of time to break into my inner circle, one set of humans that I invited in rather quickly was my Papa Tom and Grandma DeeDee. I remember leaving one of our weekly dinners, calling out “I love you” as I slipped out the door and Papa Tom replied with “I’ll see you tomorrow.” What. Maybe we had plans or maybe he was going to walk across to the house, I don’t recall, but I realized that I had let him in. Somewhere all the dinners and conversing stopped being just neighborly interactions and it turned into family. And somewhere along my persistence of repeating “I love you”, they started saying it, too. Today Papa Tom told me he can’t wait to see me at the airport. And I can’t wait to see him either. This is the makeshift; the dried macaroni, sopping elmers glue, glittery, duct taped kindergarten masterpiece that is my family. [it’s far from just Papa T & Dee].
In our few years of being just five, we also dug into some good human qualities. One we’ve gotten pretty good at is intentionality. We know that one of the best things you can give a person is your time. And so we did. With Papa Tom and Dee, it was Sunday dinners [which later evolved into nightly family dinners, rambunctious and delicious in just about every way]. With Unc & Aunt, it was Wednesday dinners, which eventually included Lace and El, too. Unc is the one who told me once that people and time were so valueable to him that he had spent money on dinners he hadn’t had in his budget just to be with people. He planted in me the importance of people and intentionality and time. These regular dinners became something I would tell everyone about, not on purpose, I just couldn’t contain how perfectly all the broken pieces were falling into place. And that’s when I realized that I had something other people did not. Not only did God create this beautiful family from the ashes but he created something unique and special. Some Saturday mornings over the summer became spontaneous breakfast with Unc and Aunt. Some months we’d visit Kari downtown more than four times. Sometimes Lynn shows up on the back porch and stays for awhile. And Beana still makes the very best banana bread. We’re prone to taco tuesdays [where people stare at our loud and wild tribe]. Every single one of our pieces has their own story, but we’re all in it together and every single one of these humans [not all mentioned, but I know who they are] has had my back every step of the way. And I think that’s why I’m so ecstatic to give my time to my family again. To be with them and to share with them. We are silly and we say bad words and make jokes and eat delicious food. Sometimes we cry and hugs squeeze us back together. But I am so ready to be with my tribe again. They are my pride and joy.