Down the Backroads: Family is a Verb

Posted on Dec 16, 2020

I, like so many others at this time of year, have a tendency to think about the past, especially events associated with the holiday season. Some of my favorite memories have taken place in December.

In fact, those memories of the past seem even more valued than ever before. From my earliest recollections to adulthood, I have stored away these remembrances and call them up every year when the wind turns colder and the days get shorter.

For instance, I recall the many local hunting trips I took with my dad once the leaves fell and before the snows came. He always let me have the first shot, even though he knew I would miss more often than not. One year at Christmas, I found a brand-new shotgun under the tree. I was so excited, and it served me well on those future hunting excursions.

Then there was the year my brother and I got matching “stingray” bikes. They were green with shiny seats and high handlebars. We rode those bikes until the wheels literally fell off.

Those Christmas mornings were always so special, and my parents made sure there were plenty of presents to go around.

I never realized until later in life how many times they had to struggle to get those presents. My mom was a stay-at-home mom raising three children and taking care of the household. My dad was the “breadwinner” for the family, often working two jobs. And while he always served as the leader of our family, I knew Mom was the boss.

It was an arrangement that worked well for more than 50 years. But the greatest gifts we got from them had nothing to do with material items, although the bike and shotgun were hard to beat!

The gift of family was far more valuable than any present under the tree. It was the practice of going together to get that tree that served as the real present. It was taking turns taping up all the Christmas cards that came in the mail around the doorway that provided more excitement than unwrapping a box. It was gathering around the table to enjoy a feast together that proved to be more lasting than those gifts they worked so hard to get.

And families aren’t just moms and dads and their children. Families are people who love and respect each other even when they don’t have the same blood running through their veins. Family is a feeling, it’s a verb; it’s not just who you are, it’s what you do.

A family loves and supports each other no matter what the world throws at us. With that said, I have a huge family and while I could never fit them all in my house, I will still have them with me. I will have them with me always.

Even though my parents are no longer with us, I still get a present from them every year because they gave me that gift of family. May we all remember the family moments we have collected, as we travel down the backroads.