Over three years have passed. Maybe that’s why it seemed so special this time. Maybe as I’ve aged, these occurrences mean so much more to me. Or maybe I just miss days gone by.
What many people take for granted, I do not. My husband and I live in a rural area. It was our choice to escape from the suburbs, move back to our home state from the other side of the country, and live a quiet life in the countryside over 15 years ago and we haven’t looked back once with regret.
When we do venture into our nearby big city or drive through the ‘burbs, we look at each other and simultaneously announce, “I don’t miss this one bit!”
So yes, we are content with our pastoral life here near my hometown. There’s only one aspect that tends to make me blue. Sunday family dinners.
Folks here in our neck of the woods have lived here most, if not all, of their lives. Their families from grandparents to parents to children to grandchildren and even great-grandchildren all live in the same area. Regularly, they gather for family times – summer picnics, life celebrations, and Sunday after church dinners.
I must admit I’m a bit envious that my husband and I are not as blessed as they are to have all of their clan nearby. We lived far away from our relatives for over 20 years so family celebrations when everyone could be together were limited. Our own three grown children and their spouses all live in three different states from ours now, so family dinners with everyone in attendance have become a rarity rather than the norm.
Our extended family is not that extended. We are small in numbers. Mom was an only child, so no aunts, uncles, or cousins on that side of the family. Dad was the youngest of six and the last of his family to pass away at 90. So aunts, uncles, and almost all of the cousins from the other half of my family are also deceased.
Likewise, husband’s relatives including his parents and all of his aunts and uncles passed away years ago, and cousins are scattered in areas far away. We both are the youngest of three siblings. It’s been many years since we’ve seen hubby’s older brothers because one brother and his family live in the Southwest while the other brother’s home is also quite a distance away from us.
Much the same, my oldest sister and her family reside out west and although we talk often by phone, distance prevents us from seeing each other often. We do manage to spend some family time with my other sister and brother-in-law, who live in our area, and occasionally with their grown son, daughter-in-law, and little one.
But Sunday after church dinners or any family dinners for that matter prove scarce and few between. That’s why last Sunday was so very special for me. My sis and brother-in-law, who haven’t been “home” for over three years for a visit, packed up their RV and traveled back to spend some time here.
And after church one Sunday, hubby and I hosted a family dinner for my two sisters and brothers-in-law. We feasted on just a simple meal: grilled steak, baked potatoes, tossed salad, and hot rolls. There were only six of us, but when we gathered around the kitchen table, my grateful meter soared.
It reminded me of all the times we congregated as a family around my parents’ kitchen table and how much I took those times for granted. While some folks may consider times like that a normal occurrence, I realized they are such a precious gift. A gift to be cherished and remembered. A gift that we may not enjoy again for some time….or ever again.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “A world without Sunday is like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week.”
For me, Sunday becomes even more joyous when I’m surrounded by family, so I will appreciate each opportunity even if it only comes once every three years.