Thanksgiving has passed and we’re gearing up for Christmas this month! I’ve wanted to blog since Thanksgiving, but rarely found the time to spend more than a few minutes here and there at my keyboard. Today I want to wish you and yours a belated Thanksgiving, and a blessed Christmas. I also want to tell you about what was on my mind at Thanksgiving.
Like many, I am thankful for the blessings in my life- my husband, my kids, mom, sister, nephew, friends, family, my faith, etc. I have a wonderful circle of friends and supportive family. And for the most part, we’re all healthy right now (::knock on wood!::), so I am extra thankful for that. I have a great job that affords me the things I need and some things I want. All around, I am a pretty lucky lady to have all of these blessings and I do not take any of them for granted.
As my family and I sat around my mother-in-law’s Turkey Day feast, we said grace and proceeded to eat wonderfully prepared delights. My MIL is a fabulous cook. She could give Paula Deen a run for her money! We spent a few hours with Joyce and then headed home. Family time is priceless.
We drove home and I got to thinking about my friends and family in my home state of West Virginia. My lifelong BFF still lives there. So do my Aunt, Uncle, and many cousins. Even if you and I are close, or we’re simply acquaintances, chance are, you know of my love for WV, and my friends and family there. I try to visit once a year, and it is usually in the summer. We spend a long weekend at Tygart Lake with my BFF and her family. Sometimes we are able to stop and see relatives, but this last time, we were not due to schedules that just didn’t jive.
With each visit with Stephanie and her family, there are always gatherings. Whether at the lake, her home, or when we make our annual trip to the NC coast, there are these wonderful gatherings that include her husband, her kids, and their friends- who become like family because I see them often. Sometimes this cast of characters even comes to visit me at my house. 3 of them converged on my 1150 sq ft house this past summer, along with my family of 3 and my crazy menagerie of animals.
Stephanie has 2 children. One is hers by blood. The other is hers by marriage. There is no “step-child” distinction. They’re just her kids. Just like my daughters are Jason’s kids. One is not a daughter and the other a step-daughter. They are sisters. Not half-sisters. It’s an “all-in” situation. Family is family. We’re all family even though some of us are not related.
My WV “framily” was on my mind this Thanksgiving.
JD and Kelsey (My BFF’s kids) are nothing short of amazing. I love them like they are my own. We don’t get enough time together, but what we DO get is a wonderful thing. We chat, we call, we text. Whatever means necessary. They are kind, respectful, they have never met a stranger and would give you the shirt off their backs. They earn a good living and are good to their parents. In their mid-20’s, and growing too fast. To say I love them is an understatement.
They have a circle of friends I have loved knowing, too. A couple in particular come to mind really quickly. This week, Kristyn and Justyn buried her mother after a long battle with cancer. Last year, Davina’s family buried her father around this time. This summer, Haley lost her paternal grandmother. And unfortunately, my sweet BFF Stephie lost her Daddy earlier this year, which impacted her family and mine so greatly that I still get choked up thinking about it.
Then you have the celebratory things…they are off to college…they get jobs…new boyfriends or girlfriends…K’Cee went to ITALY last summer (!!) while Ally moved to Florida with her family. Kelsey Ann went back to college and Megan is still making her way through it. They learn what they don’t want and learn what they DO want and go after it! Stephanie’s nephews are no longer the little boys I knew, but the grown men that make her (and me) proud. Her brother and sister-in-law make me feel as if I never left. And Mrs. Belasco will always be my second mother. I have always been her second daughter. These are gifts for which I am eternally thankful.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because they love each other so much! And even from a distance, I feel their love and support for each other. It is the way they were raised. It’s the way Stephanie and I were raised. It’s growing up in Smalltown, USA. It is a treasure to have that kind of upbringing. They comfort and complement one another. They aren’t siblings by birth, but they love each other as if they were. And it’s that way with the adults in their circle, too! That Shinnston crew that we beach with every year – plus the Bridgeport crew I don’t see often enough- they are spectacular human beings and I adore them.
Each of them has in some way, captured my heart. It is a wonderful gift to know each of them.
My Aunt Diana lost her Daddy over the Thanksgiving holiday, too. I added her to my list of things to be thankful for. She, my uncle, my cousin Regina, and her family….they share my struggle with their T1D like I do with Haley. This is the first Thanksgiving in a while where I didn’t get to visit with them. My heart breaks for them as they grieve.
This is a sappy note, right? There’s a lot of sad written above, but I hope I am also conveying the absolute joy I have in knowing them and growing up there. I am proud of how you conquer difficult situations. I am proud of how you comfort one another. I am grateful for you including me in the good times, but also the bad…because that means we’re friends and family. “Framily” I guess:)
So, my WV Framily, while my North Carolina family asked the blessing and passed the gravy, I added you to my list of blessings and thanked Jesus for each of your sweet hearts.
For y’all reading, I hope this season is the best ever for you and your “framily”.
God Bless, and Merry Christmas~