May 26, 2010

Focus on Family - Karen Toews

I’m on my flight home from the annual trip to my ‘homeland’, Alberta. In ten days it was impossible to catch up with a lifetime of family and friends (although my efforts to do so were heroic) but even if I’d had more days or had reconfigured my ‘flat-out’ schedule to include a few more get-togethers, my energy reserves for visiting and re-telling my last year are depleted.

It’s been great – delicious (and abundant) food, generous gifts of time shared with those not on vacation like myself, wishes granted to just ‘be’ with my Dad and to see many of my senior aunts and uncles.

A few thanksgivings from my visits with some of those of that generation who have helped shape and continue to influence my life.

- my Dad - for his faith, his contentment and adjustment to the changes in his home: who can still make me feel like his little girl when he slips me a bill for my lunch

- an uncle, less self-absorbed with his aches and pains than most of us many years younger - me included

- an aunt, who celebrated her 89th birthday, ready to try Greek food specialties for the first time

- a classy aunt with manicured nails and a dignified walk – more intent on embroidering tablecloths than focusing on the aches of arthritis

- an aunt, whose marriage commitment is approaching 60 years and can honestly express that, ‘through sickness and in health’ can be tough

- an uncle whose humour remains as consistent as his conscientious church-custodian duties

There were five of us kids in our family, yet my parents’ hospitality ensured our small farmhouse regularly bulged with extended family – for birthdays, holiday celebrations, football games, skating parties. These get-togethers were sometimes spontaneous, always involved copious amounts of food, and though I don’t remember hearing my parents discuss and analyze these ‘quality’ relationships, I grew up with a sure sense that they were important – these were the people you knew that loved and supported you.

This recent connecting with relatives, senior and otherwise, was especially poignant as I thought of the mobility of today’s population – including my own children. The landscape of their extended relationships looks much different than mine. I accept this for the way it is, however I am very grateful for the memory-gifts of my big family picture and for their personal godly example and encouragement.

Life (and perhaps death) will bring change for all of us between now and my next planned visit. But in this moment, I'm enriched for time spent together..."There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)


  1. This is so heartwarming, Karen, and reminds me of all the times our family 'bulged' like you said. You described it so aptly. Thank you for the reminder of such wonderful food, family and friendhip blessings!
    Pam Mytroen

  2. A wonderful journey. Thanks for sharing it—it was a blessing.

  3. Wow Mom that was so beautiful. I too have such memories, except my aunts and uncles are your brothers and sisters.

    Much of my own upbringing tells a similar story to your own. Whereas, as you mentioned, my children's upbringing, with regards to extended family relations, is so different.

    I am curious what their stories will be and hope to be around for a long time to live and share those with them. And life goes on...

  4. Thanks for sharing those memories, Sis! more to add to our already full bank of accumulated stories of the past and present - it was all so good, wasn't it, to be together for those days! and you Do manage to squeeze a lot in . . .it was hard keeping up with you! Love you! . . . Ruth


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