Thanksgiving-leading-up-to-Christmas is traditionally a good time to get all sappy about family, so I would like to say, as unsappily as possible, that I think my family is astounding. I've known this all along on some level, particularly regarding my parents and my brother and sister-in-law (even though all of them moved out of state or country after I moved back. Their reasons for doing this are also amazing and laudable, but in order to keep the tone light, let me just say: thanks, guys). However, this year I've had the opportunity to get to know some things about some of my extended family that just make me--well, I guess proud to be related to them is the best way to describe it.
During the summer I made a visit to my grandmothers who live, conveniently, in the same retirement home. I spent the morning with my mom's mom and found out that she once followed an inner prompting to write a note to a man in her church, and that the note arrived on the day he had decided to commit suicide. Humanly speaking, that note is what saved his life.
In the afternoon I got to hear again the story of how my dad's parents helped start a Christian school in New Jersey. It started with something like eleven kids, one teacher and a whole lot of metaphorical roadblocks. Now its student body is in the mid-hundreds, and they just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary or something.
Then there was the visit to Auntie Susan, about which you know. I've always found her amazing, but going to see what she does in person was so inspiring.
And then last weekend I celebrated Thanksgiving with Uncle Ted and his family. He and Auntie Libby have gone through the wringer in the past few years, because of a whole lot of things not least of which are their daughter's--my cousin's--mystery medical difficulties. You would think they had enough on their plates, but instead they just pulled out more plates. I mean this literally, because they have also taken in two of their daughter's friends whose home situations are not currently supportive or supportable. The Thanksgiving table was full of teenagers and young twenty-somethings (and some others of us that don't fit that category) and it was fun and warm and everyone seemed very grateful.
My other aunts and uncles are amazing, too, and my cousins, and I could go on and on, but these are the examples I've seen most shiningly this year, and I just had to celebrate them. It was a happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be grateful for--not least of which is my family.