26 November 2019

Happy Endings

The holidays always make me hungry for happy endings.

And yet, fourth quarter strikes the fear of the holidays in my soul.

My co-workers and I often joke every year that the holidays should be in January so we can enjoy them. We try to do the best we can every year to survive the pressure and overtime, and we try to keep the bad parts from spilling over into our families.

This year, my family had an additional hard knock. A death in the family forced an unplanned family reunion. Good with the bad. Making lemonade. The circumstances were difficult, but being together during traumatic times is like chocolate ice cream for the soul.

Many, many moons ago, my adopted teenagers both took permanent unauthorized field trips. They ran away. Communication for a good many years was painful, infrequent and often laced with bitterness.

Now both kids have kids of their own. They've realized some of what they put me through, and they are trying to rebuild our bonds.

My daughter had not seen my family since the last death in the family. She wanted to be part of this recent tragedy. She wanted to stand together with my family. She wanted to be there for my nephew, who is close to her age and has a daughter close to my granddaughter's age.

She doesn't have the resources to take an unplanned trip, especially via air.

I wanted the family to stand together, too, and I thought her being there might help all of us have something to be grateful for during our time of loss. So I ran up the credit card and flew her little family out to California, too.

As I suspected, everyone in my family fell immediately and irreversibly in love with my granddaughter. My great-niece and my granddaughter became fast friends. Both of them cried when it was time to go home.

One of my brothers has a granddaughter just two months older than my granddaughter. She has never met my granddaughter or my great-niece. I came up with an idea while watching the two girls play school with colored twisty pencils and a notepad. Both of them have access to phones and/or notebooks, but they preferred playing together, face to face.

When I got home, I put together three note card sets with coloring pages and fruit-scented colored pencils for each of the three cousins, the two who met in California and the third one who didn't get to make the trip this time. I pre-addressed each of the envelopes and then stuck stamps on them. I wrote a letter to each girl, introducing the other two with photos and life snippets, and promising them if they mail one card to each of the other two every Monday, they should receive a note card from the other two each Friday (or earlier). In this day of electronic devices and diminishing personal contact, I thought the gift of pen pals, something my siblings and I enjoyed when we were young, might be the best gift I can give those girls. I will renew their note card packets each month, and I hope to eventually encourage them to create their own note cards and drawings. I will bribe them with sequins, glow-in-the-dark glue and scrapbooking jewels.

I can hardly wait to hear how the girls react when they receive their packets! I wonder if they will become lifelong friends like my cousins and me.

When we drove my daughter and her family back to the airport after the funeral, she confessed she'd been afraid my family would always harbor angry feelings toward her and reject her. She was moved to tears because my entire family welcomed her with open arms and treated her no differently than back in 2002 when my brother died.

There have been many hard pills to swallow throughout the years, and the death two weeks ago is another. I am grateful beyond measure for the togetherness we all felt at the graveside, and I'm so thankful God has brought our family together again. This is going to be a joyous Thanksgiving and Christmas!


  1. Sorry to hear about the death in the family. We just never know. Time together shouldn't be taken for granted indeed. The kiddos getting along is great and sure they'll like the cute packets.

  2. That needed a tissue warning ... I too love happy endings! and the card idea is FANTASTIC!!!!

  3. Happy endings, indeed. :-) Happy Holidays. All the best, Regula


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