Sunday, September 4, 2011
“…there is a time to love…” -Eccl. 3:8
“We’d love to come see you, but the drive is just too long.” That’s the excuse used by most family members to avoid leaving their cozy homes and going to see relatives. As much as family means to most, the “cost” of making the drive and plans to make the meeting possible are just too high. Facebook and email are easier and more convenient than face-to-face meetings. But something is lost. There is no substitute for being able to hug and connect with people that share your name and DNA. But it comes with a price. Teach your kids that the price is worth it.
What a fun week we had last week! We had some very special people that drove a long way to be with us. My daughter Elizabeth and granddaughter Reese made the drive from Columbia to our home in Branson, Missouri. My sister-in-law Lisa, her daughter, Becca and her daughter, Emery, made the trip from Indiana. We all gathered to celebrate family and grandkids. It was a mini-reunion of at least part of the Staples family and a chance for a couple of cousins to meet each other for the first time. Mostly, it was a time for family.
With the prevalence of the blended family and the geographical relocation of many families, reunions aren't quite as popular as they used to be. Many kids grow up having never met aunts, uncles and cousins. The stories told at reunions go untold and the links between generations are left blank. Be a parent that chooses to pay the price to being family together.
When I was a child, I remember the long drives from Fort Worth to Georgia to visit my mom’s family in Thomson and my dad’s family in Roopville. The journey was long and hot and my three brothers and I played games in the back of the station wagon. We always went to Thomson first where I loved running around house, playing with my strange cousins and going to help my grandpa pick corn in his garden. After a few days, we’d make the drive across Georgia to Roopville. It was much more rural and I loved staying at the farmhouse outside of town. The home had one bathroom and a wrap around porch. It was surrounded by acres and acres of farmland. There too, I played with mysterious cousins, helped fetch eggs from the chicken coop every morning and just had a blast. My Papa died when I was little but my gran-nanny was a wonderful, kind woman. I loved seeing my dad with his brothers and sisters. It made me proud to be a “Staples.”
Somehow, none of that is captured on Facebook. Those big reunions and small reunions unite family and create a security within all involved. Sure, they can be sticky and awkward sometimes. All families carry hurts and scars from the past. But differences are set aside when family gathers. That’s called love. The Greeks used the word “storge” to describe the familial love between family members. It’s different than loving ice cream or a spouse. It’s the thick kind of love that cares because it's simply family.
Be a parent that teaches your kids to love family. Don't let them hear you speaking badly about relatives. Be sure to model love for your extended family. Remember, one day you’ll be old and will want those you love visiting you. Allow your kids to meet their aunts, uncles and cousins. Be willing to make the drive, no matter how long it takes. Because, in the end, the drive is always worth it.
And will mean tons more than a Facebook chat.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©