Last night I dreamed of my grandparent’s house.
I saw the hallways.
I could smell the air as it had been all those years ago.
The sun seemed to shine through all its windows.
I woke up and felt myself wanting to cry – how much I have missed that house.
My grandparent’s house was home.
It was the gathering place where all holidays were spent.
No matter what city my family moved to we always made the trek back.
All the family was there – every time – every holiday. All three of aunts and their spouses along with all my cousins.
It was like this unspoken rule that you just showed up.
AND Christmas was all day event. The tree was all stoked full of presents. A large table that sat in the living room housed an alpine village complete with its own train that my grandfather had collected over the years.
It was special.
All of it.
And as a kid, I just thought this was what every family did every year. Gather. Celebrate. Repeat.
In November of 2006, my grandfather died. He died suddenly. One day he was fine – the next he was gone.
And it rocked my family.
That first holiday season we tried to keep things as “normal” as possible but by the next year our family had changed.
People had scattered.
It has taken me almost fourteen years to realize how impactful that all was. We went from the family that gathered to the family that scattered.
Sure, some of us still got together but it was not the same.
And as the years have gone by it seems that more and more has changed.
There are reasons for all of this – things have happened. People have made good and bad decisions.
People have chosen to forgive and others have not.
But all those decisions have impacted “the family”.
For many years, I held onto some hope that we could get back what we had but the more time went by the more impossible it all felt. When my grandparent’s house was finally no longer theirs, it seemed like the finality to it all.
Maybe this all just a natural part of life. Generations come. Generations go. Traditions and patterns change.
And to some degree I am certain this is all true. BUT for us. For some. Change was a choice. A choice to not come together and choose to move beyond what we believe to be the right or true thing.
Maybe we never understood before what impact my grandfather had on all of us. He was the glue. The thing that held us.
Looking back, I think what we all failed to see was that everyone needed grace. We had all suffered a great loss. A loss that rocked us. My grandfather was a special man who had this unique way of making us all feel special. Of showing us what it meant to love and be loved.
I am not saying he was perfect, I am jus saying that he was “family”. He showed us what it meant to be a family.
And on that cold day in November, when we met to say our goodbyes to him somehow we let that sense of family go with him.
No one did this on purpose. I am not even sure we realized it was happening. But the more we took a step away from one another the more we moved away from what my grandfather taught us about family.
Families are full of mistakes. Families do not always say the right thing or make the right decisions. Families are messy.
So much grace is needed for family. Grace upon grace. Compassion upon compassion.
I know for me, being the oldest grandchild, I can see how grandpa taught that.
So to my family today, who gathered every holiday rain or shine, we are all still special. We are still worthy of grace. We are still family.
May we find the heart to gather again.
Until next time,