Still warm with feelings from yesterday’s Thanksgiving get-together at my place as I sit at my computer. Most of my family joined Gail and I here in Hibbing for a wonderful meal and socializing. Thanks Gail for all your kitchen work–the turkey and dressing, etc. were the work of a great cook. And, Susan (my daughter-in-law) for contributing to a table full of food that would feed an army. My grandkids (Chris and Susans) kept us all busy as they are both curious, crave entertainment, and have a million questions. How quickly they grow! Braden (11) has sprouted inches since mid-summer, Noah (9) likewise, and Maddie (turning 8 on December 1) is destined to be a model one day.
Daughter Shannon and granddaughter Cali were a great help and fun to be around for a couple of extra days. They left for Shakopee just this morning in mild weather so Cali could get to work later today. In another month Cali will be graduating from the University with a double major and then heading off to Tanzania, Africa for a three-year stint in the Peace Corps. So it will be her last Thanksgiving at Grampa’s for a while.
Daughter Erin, and her Jack a college freshman, and Grace a kindergartener live in Florida and couldn’t be with us.
How I love them all.
We talk and share our lives as often as most families do but . . . there are many things that are left unsaid. I know that each of us have our own journeys, our own personalities, and things that we don’t want to share–not even with family. So yes, it’s the things we didn’t share . . . the things that bring stress to our lives . . . that I regret. There isn’t a perfect family–not even the Cleavers (if you go back that far) and it has been said that every family is ‘dysfunctional’ to some degree. So it is with mine these days. As a father and a grampa I’m privy to some of the issues in the lives of my brood, but I hurt when I feel ‘blocked out’ from any opportunity of offering advice or counsel. In not a ‘fixer-upper’ but I am a good listener.
I don’t know how often I remember confiding personal issues I couldn’t figure out by myself with my Dad. He was gifted with marvelous insightfulness and when we talked I always found that he steered me toward answering the problem by myself in such a way that my decisions felt like my decisions. In retrospect, I wish I had his gift.
I would be challenged to define a ‘family’ in this day and age. I could only surmise that a family is whatever its members consider it to be. Blended, single-parented, adopted, multi-generational, nonmarried with kids from both sides, grandparents raising their children’s children . . . the list is almost endless. And, all too often, the arrangements don’t work well for the individuals involved.
While growing up I believed my family to be almost idyllic. Of course, it wasn’t. But, I didn’t know it at the time and didn’t come to grips with it well into adulthood. The times we live in since the fifties are part of the estrangement of today but it goes deeper than that. Maybe the expression ‘we choose our friends but are stuck with our families’ can be true for many. I couldn’t have picked better parents and I couldn’t have asked for better kids. Yet . . . nothing is perfect. Maybe that’s why I find myself praying so often. Maybe the most perfect prayer is the ‘Serenity Prayer’ . . . “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things that I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” I know that it is a prayer that has saved countless lives of addicted individuals, but I think it works for me and I recommend it to all of you who read this blog.