The word “family” reminds me of a beautiful, warm plush fleece blanket I received for Christmas several years ago. It has come in handy on so many occasions as have they. Recently, while re-reading The Glenstal Book of Prayer which my eldest brother gave me in 2002, I was once again reminded of the splendor my family possesses and how blessed I am to have them in my life. I make my comparison of them to the blanket because when I’m not feeling quite right, I can wrap myself up in them (family) and suddenly, everything is good in the world. If I’m frightened, I can pull them up to my chin and hide beneath their unceasing protection. Should I feel tired or weak, they help comfort me on the coldest, darkest of days. When something is amiss or if I feel wronged, they can either be put aside for another day or get refluffed to begin anew.
While this analogy may not be the most creative, it serves a purpose. It brought me back to my childhood years, which weren’t always as pleasant as I envisioned they were. After all, why dwell upon situations in your past you can’t change? I prefer to embrace all the wondrous memories of my youth of which family was an integral part. The holidays will soon be upon us, in particular Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s which always evoke a warm, loving feeling deep within. Once again, I look forward to gathering with family; family which has significantly multiplied over the years.
As the youngest of six children, three each, I was somewhat spoiled. There is a 16 year age gap between my eldest brother and me. Closing my eyes, I recall him studying in the room across from mine when he was home from college. He seemed to always be reading and writing but at the time, I never gave it much thought. My brother, who hitchhiked his way across Europe during his college years, became an English professor with degrees in engineering and linguistics, to name a few. Intelligent yet unassuming, he’s extremely down to earth; my father’s son for sure. I credit him with my love of learning and language. Many nights, he would take time to read poems and stories to me from the likes of Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe and T. S. Elliott. Some of my favorites were “The Jabberwocky”, “The Raven” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” At the time, I was unaware of the meaning each held, yet I hung on the sound of every word from my brother’s lips, my eyes bright as moons, as he spoke with such emotion and passion:
“`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”
Lewis Carroll ~ “The Jabberwocky”
I still shutter every time I read that poem, maybe because it sounds so awesome when I recite it out loud!
Fast forward forty some-odd years; the memories of those glorious evenings consume me. I can relay countless tales similar to this, where one of my other siblings shared selfless occasions with me. Family is so precious, a gift to be cherished; a warm, fuzzy blanket that wraps us in eternal love. Though it may occasionally fray here and there, the threads that bind it will endure forever.
If wishes came true, my wish would be that the love a family has for one another multiply and extend to all corners of the earth so that some day, maybe one day, we can all live in peace and harmony.
“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~ Maya Angelou