Ty met an airman at Fairchild Air Force Base who lives far away from family. He has only been in the area for a few weeks and has no established friends yet. He's a devout Christian, but has not yet found a congregation with which he identifies. In short, he's alone. Ty told this airman that Calvin and I would love to have him come for Thanksgiving. He explained that his brother and sister and their families and two cousins would also be at our home so he'd have lots of people with whom to share Thanksgiving.
We made contact with the airman, he got the required approval, and he came - sight unseen - to spend the holiday with us. During one of the many prayers offered throughout the weekend (we are a praying family that formally prays over meals as well as kneels in family prayer morning and evening), the airman thanked God for "this family that helps me to see what a family is meant to look like."
Calvin and I were humbled by his prayer and have thought about it several times. We do have a beautiful family, and we also have (and have had) challenges and struggles to keep it in-tact, harmonious, thriving, and growing. A lot of worry, wonder, effort, and miracles go into a family. The airman's prayer quietly reminded me to be grateful for the progress and the process of making a family rather than the worry that we're still so far from perfect.
Today I'm grateful for the role that holidays, celebrations, and wholesome family activities play in growing a family.
Wednesday morning, Ray and Cali's family as well as Ray's sister Tracy arrived from Seattle. While Atlas and Levin stayed home with me the rest of them went to Spokane and look around and to bring Ty's friend home.
While they were gone, I made pies and par-boiled the sweet potatoes as Thanksgiving music played in the background. Levin brought a bucket of little cars into the kitchen and revved and drove them at my feet while I worked. Knowing that family was on their way home (Abe, Grace, Henry, and niece and nephew Jesse and Cache), and that our family far away had other family to join, it was a serene moment that felt a wee bit like I imagine heaven feels like. "Over the river and through the wood to grandmother's house we go" was a reality, not a scene from Currier and Ives, and I got to play the role of grandmother.
We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Here are a few pictures documenting it:
|Grace and Jesse|
|Abe and Ray|
Thanksgiving Day also happened to be Calvin's birthday. While he's a full-fledged meat eater, turkey does not even make his list. Instead, he suggested we have cornish game hens and that each person season their own before he grilled them. He set up a cupboard in the kitchen with all of the spices and each person prepared theirs according to taste. Not only were the hens really good, it was a fun activity prepping and comparing flavors.
While Thanksgiving Dinner tasted really good, it wasn't the only good food of the week:
|Abe and Calvin|
|Henry and Atlas pretty much lived on yogurt and rolls|
We celebrated all week with food. One morning Calvin and Abe fried up lots of homemade bacon and sausage and made omelets to order. I liked that it was all cooked outside on the grill and greatly minimized the mess.
We also played many games:
|Nephew Cache, niece Jesse, Ray's sister Tracy, Cali, and Grace|
|Ray hobbled Atlas with rubber bands|
|Henry and Levin|
|Atlas and Dan|
|Ray running from one clue to another|
|Team Artsy-Fartsy trying to figure out their next clue (Cali, Abe, and Jesse)|
|Jesse, Abe, Cali taking required treasure hunt portrait|
We split the 13 of us up into teams for the weekend. Competitions included rubber-band gun and blow-dart shooting contests, as well as a treasure hunt and charades.
We not only ate and played, we worked. Everyone chipped in Friday morning and helped Calvin and me cut, pile, and burn some trees that had blown over in the pasture. They also hauled and burned loads of leaves and branches.
|Cali, Jesse, our new airman friend, Tracy|
|Abe and Levin|
We built a big bonfire to burn everything. It looks so much better and the help was greatly appreciated.
We also had some great conversations.
Whether it took place around the dinner table, game table, on a walk, around a fire, or in the living room, I loved the conversation and discussions.
Elder Robert D. Hales said, "When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality . . . Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family . . ." This week I'm grateful for the process of growing a family.