It's been 16 years since all of my siblings and I and our families have been together. The summer we moved from southern Saskatchewan to northern Alberta my parents hosted a family reunion of sorts. Not only my siblings but all my cousins came and it was good. My kids were all preschoolers then and I didn't look any farther than bedtime on any given day. It was a different kind of living in the present. Demands on my time made living in the moment the only viable option.
This Christmas is the first time that we have to juggle schedules and find a day when all of us will be home and we can have our own family Christmas. I have a new appreciation for why it thrilled my mom to have all her kids gathered around her. The thought of my own family gathered around the 'hearth' pleases me to no end. I know that the day will most likely come when getting everyone together won't be possible. I cannot imagine going 16 years waiting for it to happen again.
In my husband's family every Christmas his father says a few words to us all. With 10 siblings and over 35 nieces and nephews, some married with families of their own, we are quite a crowd when we gather. My father-in-law always talks about how a time is coming when we won't be able to be gathered like we are. That someone will be missing. He talks about being ready to meet God. There were many years that I felt like he was trying to lay a guilt trip on us all. Especially since he believes membership in his church is the only way to get to meet God. But a few years ago I told my daughter to appreciate having come from a tradition that spoke of spiritual things...that cared for the spiritual well being of each member of the 'tribe'. That particular year we were all thinking of a young nephew who had been killed in a plane crash. Last year saw the death of one of my brother-in-laws in a tragic accident and at Christmas Dad didn't get up and say his piece. The pain was too raw that people were missing.
This morning I am sitting here feeling a bit nostalgic. I want to be present in the moment for different reasons than the ones I had when preschoolers filled my days. That inner presentness that speaks of the worth of every moment and every person in it. The kind that acknowledges that God is in the midst of it with us, always, whether our loved ones are present or not.