I love it when I have a houseful of family to celebrate, and this weekend we celebrated big. Father’s Day is extra special for me these days since my dad is my only living parent. So, we bought burgers, pulled out the grill and invited all the family that was available to come and feast at our home. When the whole crew gets together, we make a lot of noise. Kind of like the family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” One of my all-time favorite movies because sometimes we ARE that family, I can so relate. We tend to be like the folks I see on TV sporting events who have their faces painted two tone colors to support their favorite team. The ones wearing the big foam number one finger shaking it around all over the fans near them. Yeah, you get the idea.
We’re just loud, enthusiastic, and in my very bias opinion, a ton of fun.
It didn’t take long to grill the burgers to charred perfection and to top each with a slice of yellow cheese; then we sat down to indulge. My table has a couple of extensions so it’s plenty long enough to accommodate our bunch. We have the space, just not enough chairs. So, we pull out whatever we can find. You never know exactly what you’ll be seated on if you’re not one of the lucky ones to get an actual chair. This particular evening I was sitting in our small swivel office chair on the very corner of the long table, the perfect view to see everyone who’d come to celebrate. We were crowded, but that only encouraged the easy banter tossed around while we ate and laughed between bites.
In all the chaos, passing of dishes, pouring of drinks and digging in, I looked around and began to thank the Lord for each person present.
They are all so very different and bring something different into my life.
My brother in law keeps me in stitches, he is just so funny. He’s also loud and somehow his humor mixed with his volume makes me laugh even harder. My son is very quick witted, he doesn’t miss any opportunity to create drama out of a funny interchange. He is also a debater and sometimes that drives me crazy. But, I remind myself often to be thankful for someone who challenges me and keeps me from being surrounded with opinions that only reflect mine.
My dad needs a hearing aid; yes, I said that. He knows it, but his answer every time I tell him to get one is, “what?” He’s hilarious in our messy conversations because he responds to questions and statements that were never asked or said. In the midst of all the humor, he brings wisdom and tells of days gone by when times were simpler and everyday Americans still loved God and country. He can fix anything, seriously, he’s always been handy with gadgets and cars. I am forever grateful for the times he’s fixed our car or helped with our plumbing or any number of things. He’s shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears at our home.
He is the cornerstone of this crazy family and he has the two tone face paint to prove it.
My daughter is the realist, she is good about bringing us all down to earth. I would surely be wandering around chasing pipe dreams with enthusiasm if she were not in my life. She reminds me all things are possible but not all things are a good idea. Like when I get so excited and I’m about to embarrass myself, she’s always there to remind me how it might look for this forty something to break out in a happy dance in the middle of a crowd. She’s saved me from myself plenty of times. She also listens to me, really listens. As I get older I am so appreciative of those who have the gift of not just hearing but listening. Many times she will sit quietly and allow me to pour my heart out and only offer the comfort of feeling heard.
I cannot imagine my life without her quiet spirit and down-to-earth perspective.
And then there is a new member at our table, my dad’s wife. If you’ve read my blog for very long you know we lost my mom almost three years ago. The period of time after she died was nearly unbearable. But, the Lord is so faithful and just when I thought we might drown in grief, He started us down a road I never thought I’d travel.
My dad remarried.
I wasn’t sure how I would bear this new normal, but I have learned you can accept and even embrace the future without betraying the past. She has become a joy to us and it has brought deep healing into the brokenness of my heart. She exudes peace and works harder than anyone I know. She is such a good example of unconditional love and second chances.
I am so thankful she sits at our table these days.
And then there’s my husband, this man who has stood by me through thick and thin. He is the best of the two of us. He is strong to my weak, comfort to my heartache, stable to my roller coaster, and love to my needy heart. He is our game player, the one who begs anyone, yes anyone, even you, to play cards or any game with him on any given night. Sadly, he married a total game dud. Poor guy, this is definitely his cross to bear. He makes me laugh when I want to curl up in my protective shell and be left alone. He reminds me I am not that important, don’t gasp, it’s actually for my good. (Remind me to tell you the story later.) He brings a solid foundation to our sometimes shaky table, the kind you can count on in a pinch. He is faithful to the core and if he’s you’re friend, you’ve got one for life.
Our youngest son is much like his dad.
All of these thoughts and many more floated around in my mind as I sat around the table enjoying the hearty conversations and small talk. It was in the midst of all the social clutter I realized something, my table could be a metaphor for my life story. When I think of the many people who come in and out of my life day to day, each one brings something different to the “table.” Some make me laugh, not only at silly things, but at myself. Others make me think about why I do the things I do. Some carry my burdens like their own and pray for me like family. There are a few who have been in my life for many years, I share history with them that allows easy conversation of life stories and shared victories. I work with some and we share the stresses and accomplishments of busy times and good work. There are others who celebrate with me when my kids are successful and pray for my disappointment when they’re not. Many who share my faith and encourage me to keep growing, and a couple who shoot straight with me when I really don’t want to hear what they have to say because it might hurt.
All of these precious people make me better, richer, happier, more grounded and most importantly, they keep me growing.
My “table” is full, maybe even a little crowded, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Sometime soon when you’re gathered with your family, or friends that are like family, take a look around and realize what each one brings into your life that you really couldn’t do without. It’s amazing how really good we can be for one another.
And if you’re really lucky, they’ll paint their faces two colors and point the way to joyful living with a giant number one foam finger.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Cor. 10:31
“A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Psalm 17:17
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Psalm 27:17