Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coming Together for Christmas by Brenda Nixon

At Christmas, spending time with both sides of the family can be a challenge. Our extended family is scattered across the U.S.

It was especially hard on our family and feelings when our daughters were young and we desperately wanted them bonding with all the grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. But it wasn't possible.

We lived in Kansas City, MO when my girls were young. My side of the gene pool lived in Ohio and my husband's lived in Idaho. Yep, we were smack dab in the middle! I wrote letters (this was before email), phoned, had the girl draw pictures, took photographs and did everything I could to keep the kids and relatives close in heart. But distance prevented us from spending holidays together and never were we able to be with both sides on the same Christmas.

These days, we live in Ohio. My girls are grown young women now. Guess what? While togetherness creates memories, bonding can still happen even when you're apart. Bonding can be nurtured by extra effort and attitude. My girls still love their relatives; one flew to Idaho recently to spend her week's vacation with them. Birthday cards, gifts, and photographs are exchanged with relatives. The rare times together are sweeter because we don't take them for granted.

It demands more effort and energy to "spend time" with both sides of the family when geography prohibits physical closeness. If you're in this inconvenient boat, I encourage you to resolve to stay in touch! Remember the words of Peter Marshall, "Oaks grow strong in contrary winds." And so can your family.

Brenda Nixon, co-author of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

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