I’ve been blessed this summer and fall to get to see quite a bit of family members that I don’t often get to see. First was my uncle, who came all the way from California to spend the week in Atlanta with Grammie. They had a busy week, but I managed to snag them for an evening and have dinner with them. It was great to see them both, but particularly Uncle Jeff – I see Grammie whenever I go down to Albany (which still isn’t as much as I’d like), but I haven’t seen my uncle in years.
I also recently got to have dinner with my mom’s side of the family for my Great-Aunt’s birthday. Even though they live in and around Atlanta, I see them very rarely, so it was wonderful to catch up with them. Actually, through unforeseen circumstances I ended up being able to spend almost an entire day with some of them the next weekend…but more on that in the next entry :).
Next on the list was my mom and sister. My mom has decided that if she wants to see her kids, she just has to go and do it – there will never be a great time, and if she waits around until everyone is in town she will never see any of us. So she just tries to come up to Atlanta as often as she can, and sees whichever of us happen to be around that weekend. I’m very appreciative and blessed with that perspective that she has taken. She came up a few weeks ago; it actually happened to be one of my busiest weekends of the whole summer, but I adore my family, so I made a point of seeing them for at least a little bit. I got off of work early on Friday and was able to spend the afternoon with them. First thing we did was take mom shopping for some jeans – 2 hours and lots of laughs later, she finally found some. Poor Hope was getting very bored, though, so we took her mini-golfing as a consolation prize :). (Oh….and as a side note….another result of this shopping trip was that I tried out a new way to hem pants that actually keeps the original hem! It was a life-changing revelation. Now short people can actually have pants that fit, too! :] ).
After the putt-putting Michael and I were already planning on going to Andretti, an indoor go-kart racing place right by my office, so I thought that after putt-putt I would have to part ways with mom and Hope. But they decided that Andretti sounded like fun too, and so they tagged along with us there. You should have seen Hope scurrying up the rock wall! She was like a mountain goat. The girl has no fear…it’s truly incredible. That evening mom and Hope stayed the night with me, so I got the pleasure of spending even MORE time with them! It was really an awesome day; I so rarely get to spend time with just the ladies in my family these days…
Come Saturday, though, it was off to work again. Michael moved that weekend, so I was part of the muscle crew that helped him out. Actually, I didn’t move much furniture at all…Amy and I stayed behind and cleaned his apartment after the guys had taken the stuff over to his new place. I firmly contend that I had the much harder job, lol… But it was worth it. Because Amy and I cleaned the entire apartment while Michael was moving into his new house, he was able to just hand the keys into the office and walk away, and not have to worry about coming back later to clean.
But I must admit….helping Michael move wasn’t done entirely out of pure motives. Stone Mountain was having their last laser light show of the year that night…and I really wanted to go! We ended up finishing moving in plenty of time, so we drove out and met his parents for a picnic dinner on the grounds. We did that because we wanted to get there early enough to get a good viewing seat, but that also meant that we had plenty of time to walk around the park and see the sights. I had actually never been to Stone Mountain, even though it’s only about 30 minutes from where I live (which is really nothing in Atlanta terms). They had a little village all decked out – although it seemed a bit confused, as it was sort of a mash-up of both fall and Christmas decorations. But…I suppose you could say that gave it extra character? But regardless of which holiday the folks at Stone Mountain were celebrating, my favorite decoration was definitely the pumpkins – they had a whole pumpkin scene set up that depicted the characters from Despicable Me. Really a very cute idea, and very well executed, too. And then of course the light show was spectacular. I’ve actually heard mixed reviews about the light show at Stone Mountain, but I would definitely recommend it. They did an excellent job melding animated lights, music, and pictures depicting a variety of topics and famous people from Georgia’s history – all on the side of a mountain! There were even some parts in which they incorporated the enormous carving that makes Stone Mountain famous into the light show itself. I found it absolutely mesmerizing.
And then of course, I would be much remiss in a post about family if I left out my visit to New Jersey a few weeks ago. It has been several years since I’ve seen my mom’s parents, and I had a little bit of unused vacation time left from work, so I decided to take a day off and go visit them while I could. I got up at an absolutely ungodly hour – the plane left at 6:00 in the morning from both locations – but I suppose the plus side of that is that once I landed I still had almost the entire day before me. And my boyfriend Michael took me to and from the airport in Atlanta, and my cousin Michael did the same in New Jersey…so I really can’t complain about having to get up so early.
Anyway, the days I spent with my grandparents were well worth whatever inconvenience it took to get there. Even though we didn’t do much, I treasure the time that I got to spend with them. An added bonus was getting to see my Aunt Joan and Uncle John for most of the day on Sunday. They came all the way from Connecticut, a 3-hour or so drive each way, just so they could spend a few hours with me. Because my visit was so short (and I didn’t have any means of transportation), I really couldn’t take the time to visit my other family who lives in the area, so I had just thought that I was not going to be able to see them. I felt very loved and cared for from them taking the time and initiative to make the trip to come see me in New Jersey. I was very grateful for the stories and laughs that I shared with everyone while I was there. As my grandparents get older, and the time I have left to spend with them becomes less and less, it becomes more and more valuable.
I’m so very blessed to have such a wonderful family. Sure, they have their quirks. There are of course times when they frustrate me to no end. But at the end of the day, they are awesome and I love them dearly, and couldn’t imagine life without them. Don’t take for granted the friends and family that God has put in your life. Don’t forget how blessed you are to have your own personal cheerleaders. Don’t nit-pick over their small flaws, but make the effort to see the whole package. Rejoice in them and take the time to thank them as often as you can for how well they love, care, and look out for you. And if you feel like you don’t have people in your life who do that…rejoice in the fact that God always will :).