Taking Stock in the New Year
Maybe it’s the long nights during the season of the New Year or the feeling of solitude that winter brings, tossed in with the sense of renewal and a fresh beginning that makes me consider the importance of relationships.
All the other things that define my life and the way I view myself; the allocates, job promotions, awards and achievements pale to the value of family and friends.
I wrote out the last of my Christmas cards in mid-December. I was putting on the return address labels and stamps when I set one card aside. I will hand deliver this one, I thought. It was to a couple I hadn’t seen in years, but we’d continued to send Christmas cards. My husband and I had stood up at their wedding as best man and matron of honor. The four of us had been close but the years pulled us apart.
Days passed and their card was still on the counter. It was a week before Christmas so I decided to mail it after all. The day after Christmas it came back to me. I hadn’t put a stamp on the envelope. I took advantage of this second chance and picked up the phone.
“Yes, a visit that afternoon would be wonderful.”
A pot of coffee and ten years of catching up filled the hours until the sun was getting low in the sky. I was offered a ride through the woods on their new quad. I love the stark beauty of a winter day and it was amazing in the magical light of the late afternoon. We stopped at a little cabin, tucked among the trees that had been built for grandchildren and deer hunting. On the way back, I was given an offer to drive. I hesitated then said, “No.” I wish I would’ve taken the offer. When will another one come along?
The day ended with hugs and promises to keep in touch. It was an afternoon to be cherished.
Then on Sunday, during coffee hour after church, I found next to me a cousin through marriage, a time or two removed, I didn’t know I had. His uncle was good friends with my dad, miles and years away. I told the new cousin of my nephew, his second cousin’s boy, and of his college graduation, wife and children. We shared separate memories of the family. He said he would have his wife talk to me. She is doing the family genealogy and they’d lost track of this branch.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the world is a small place. The degree of separation isn’t six, it’s more like three. All the connections we have, both known and yet to be discovered are what holds us all together. They are the most valuable things we’ll ever have.
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