Every year as Christmas comes to a customary close, like many families, my mother, and sisters and I always have this tradition where we reflect on the past year- since that’s the one time in a year that we are all usually together. We look at where we are compared to where we were a year ago. The statement “Would you have ever thought you’d be here last year at this time?” follows that reflection. The answer is usually, “Not in a million.” Even when we have a fairly ‘normal’ year, (as in no major life-changing events) there is still this ongoing, changing in our lives. It’s been said that the one thing that you can count on is change. Our lives are continuously developing, changing, and growing.
The only one sure thing I know of in life is family. Family is everything. We are literally spread across the entire country. (WA, MN, MD, MI, KS, NY, ND, CA…) Having moved away from where I grew up, I also consider my closest friends my family, as they are usually the ones I spend birthdays and thanksgivings- and if I count the spread of states in which close friends reside, the results are infinite. Well, maybe 48 or 49 states.
In this grand year of 2011, we had our annual trip to back home where we stayed at a resort on the lake for a week. It’s the prime time for the kids to meet their awesome (and sometimes crazy) extended family- and not to mention get a taste of life up in Northern country.
I also attended two fabulous weddings this year- one a cousin in Kansas and the second was a cousin in Minnesota. I hadn’t seen my cousins on my mother’s side in nearly 6 years. (Since my grandmother’s funeral- this obviously was a much more pleasant gathering.) And yet, we were able to continue our conversations without missing a beat. We can go months without talking, but that doesn’t change the incredible bond I feel with my family.
Family will love you and be there for you in a moment’s notice. Though our families are not perfect by any means. We all have our crazy ones, the loud ones, and the naughty ones (yeah, you know who you are) but that doesn’t mean we love them any less- maybe we love those ones even more. I can fight with my sisters like two angry wet chickens, and 2 minutes later, we are over it. No matter how you disagree with your family; you will always be there for each other- without judgment- without a deep judgment anyways. We all are just doing the best we can. We make mistakes. We hurt. And we forgive. We laugh together and we cry together. We survive because we have each other. We move forward because that is what life does.
Our family is forever growing as everyone brings in their significant others to the circle. And then sometimes when we least expect it, happy surprises fulfill the void that we never knew existed- until it is filled. Other times, as Cinderella once said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.” That is, Cinderella the 80’s hair band- not the fairytale story.
I would like to think there is a plan for all of this, and someday it will all make sense. Good comes out of bad. Happiness comes out of sadness. And joy comes out of emptiness. Sometimes things don’t make sense and we fight only to be defeated. The hardest part of it all is just letting go and trusting that everything is happening exactly as it should in a perfect plan for us. Sometimes we must lose or almost lose something in order to realize the value of it.
And so for the next year ahead, I wish you many days of joy and contentment. I hope that whatever is troubling you will fall into its place in perfect time as it should. I hope for your hearts to be filled with love, and for your friends and family to be abundant and ever-standing. When you look back at the year’s end, I hope that you reflect with wonder and amazement, but also satisfaction and understanding. Let go of the urge to control. Someday it will all make sense. And finally, I hope for you that you know you never have to go through it alone. We’re all in this craziness together.
Where are you now and where do you think you’ll be in a year from now?
“If I could go back and change things, would I? I don't know if I would, because my life would probably be different. I know I made bad mistakes. I know I was wrong. But that's what you've got to do sometimes to learn how to be right.” ~James Frey