When I think back on the best Christmases I have ever had, everyone one of them had something in common. People. When you group in a very connected family, third cousins often feel like cousins and you have a lot more aunts and uncles than in actuality. I don’t remember many gifts, but even as a child, it was good to see the mixtures of personalities. In some way, I could find many pieces of the adults and figure out what kind of person I wanted to be.
Great Uncle Russell – My great Uncle Russell was always one of my favorite people to see. I always had to ask to see his tattoo of Arlene, he would flexes muscle and alternate between little Arlene and big Arlene. He always told us funny jokes and reminded me of a cross between Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. I remember one day when he parked his semi truck in our backyard on a visit through our small town in Kansas. He was always a kind person and continually made me feel at home, no matter where they lived.
Great Uncle Delmar – Delmar is one of the first people in my family to have graduated college. He was a CPA for years in a small town in Northern Kansas. He always reminded me of what our Great Grandfather Paul was like. He is the only brother my grandma had. I am sure that they put him through it over the years. He had two girls and one of them later became my swim coach and babysitter one summer. It was so much fun having a connection to family so devoted to the fine arts, as I remember attending a really fancy recital one time. Delmar was always encouraging about the importance of a good education and he had followed his own advice, in comparison to many other people who gave me this advice.
“Uncle” Bruce – Uncle Bruce made an impact on me as well. He always seemed to notice that my brother and I were getting stir crazy and he would get us out to go do something. He played basketball with us and was always kind. He has always been a hard worker and example of someone who works hard and sticks to something. I have always admired that about him, just a quality guy and dad.
When you are growing up primarily with your Mom, I think you look up to male influence, although my Dad was very much a part of our lives, I think when we were around men, my brother and I just soaked it up. I am thankful for so many good examples of what it means to be a kind and quality person.
Every Christmas was pure magic, whatever house we met at was transformed. It was fun to have an atmosphere, where very few people asked me about my grades, or the harder questions. It was just a time to get together and be with each other.
May your Christmas this year, give you time to appreciate the people who gather where you are. Each one has helped make you who you are today.