There’s no way to do this topic justice, so suffice it to say I will do my best to not be my typical verbose, yet somehow convey the understood.

My parents and younger sister made the 3:45 trek here yesterday afternoon for Liv’s birthday.  We do what we always do: ordered pizza, played euchre, made fun of each other, and laughed hysterically.  As we were sitting around the high-top kitchen table, it dawned on me that not too long ago – as in over Thanksgiving – another family sat in the exact same spot doing the exact same thing. 

Both times, I watched the dynamics carefully.  Families come in all different shapes and sizes.  They come from all kinds of walks of life, varying backgrounds, experiences, troubles, and situations.  Yet, the one thing they all share?  Stories.  Both past and present, story telling occurs and is narrated in such a manner that the one thing which pervades is love.

Sarah:  “Remember that time you tried to take my head off with your hair brush because I wouldn’t let you in the bathroom?”

Me:  “No.”

Me:  “Remember that time we camped out on the screened-in porch and I only told you yes because you knew Jeff Walker was sneaking out to walk half-way across town to see me and you threatened to tell Mom and Dad?”

Sarah:  “I only remember the one who showed up in all leather and chaps on a bike that rumbled so loudly you couldn’t hear Dad yelling at you.”

Me:  “That was your other sister.”

Some things never change, nor would I ever want them to.  While we were perusing in the home goods section of Gordman’s late afternoon my sweet baby sister, standing next to our Mother, held up a Best Daughter In The World picture, looked at me all straight-faced-like and said, “Hey Beth, look what Mom just gave me.”

And yet, families are the ones who also know what buttons make you cry.  Which past experiences caused you to almost fold and become a recluse who would no longer come to visit or make it in for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Timing is everything.  Families have the element of time on their side to retell the stories of the past, and with precision timing, weave in the current. They know what each other has gone through, is going through, and will go through.  They know what each other is willing to put up with and what they won’t (“I calmly told the misogynist contact-lens-fitter-guy that I was done being spoken to like that and best of luck finding any woman who would let him stick those sausage fingers and all that condescension in their eyes either….”)

They know that when your daughter is turning 17 you start to think about the next phase of your life.  They know you love them so much that you’re willing to sleep on your own couch – and to wake up even earlier than usual to make coffee that is stronger than usual, if that’s even possible.

Families are the ones who rush to your side when you can’t breathe; when you are getting divorced; when you have cancer; when life just pummels you out of no where.  And they are also the ones who look like this after celebrating time spent together…for none of those reasons other than time permitted and they love each other.  Unconditionally.