Family Talk: Birthday celebrations a reminder of the blessing of family
I’m very blessed to live en familia as they say in Spanish, or “in family.” My family, from the oldest to the youngest, deeply enriches my life. A recent family gathering provides Exhibit A.
The occasion was the dual birthday celebrations of my 90-year-old mother-in-law, Ruth, and my 1-year-old grandson, James. Aunts, uncles and cousins gathered to honor the oldest and the youngest clan members.
James had a dinosaur-themed party complete with a messy cake-eating demonstration. Ruth was a bit tidier in her cake consumption, and no dinosaurs were seen at her gathering.
Because she was a public school teacher for 30-plus years, Ruth administered an exam to the partygoers to see how much they knew about her life. As she went over the answers to the test, she regaled us with stories of growing up poor as one of 11 children in Burkburnett, Texas. She and my recently departed father-in-law led a life of service to God and others, and raised four successful children. She has enriched many lives, including my own.
James, on the other hand, is just getting started. He doesn’t have a lot of memories yet, and he can’t yet articulate the ones he has. Where Ruth walks cautiously across the living room, James crawls recklessly and rapidly. Ruth was one of 11. James is one of one. Ruth has run a long race involving many loving relationships. James is just barely past the starting line, but he enriches my life, too.
Ruth and James represent the opposite ends of the family age spectrum. Each of us finds ourselves somewhere along that spectrum every day. Not every day is someone’s birthday in your family, but every day along the spectrum should be celebrated. If you have rich relationships with family members, appreciate it and celebrate them. If you don’t, find a way to develop them. Enjoy and celebrate living en familia every day!
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.