all in the family

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

(Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV)

We had all three sons home for Thanksgiving week, plus two wives and three granddaughters.  A new girlfriend was in and out so we had something to talk about, or at least to tease the youngest son about.

Thanksgiving morning we Skyped our daughter in Tallahassee and all chatted with her, her husband John and two sons Timothy and Andrew.

The weather there was 80, but we had an unexpected blessing ourselves—a beautiful day for late November, nice enough to go walking on Falling Water Trail.

Everyone  arrived on Wednesday, and we had a traditional dinner Thursday.  (My one alteration, a warm Swiss chard salad with cranberries and grapes was not a hit.)

We had a brunch Friday so some of Katie’s sisters could see the grandchildren.

Saturday some guys came over from the church to help me patch my barn roof.  Actually, I just tried to help them.

And that afternoon there was a six-year old birthday party for our oldest grandchild  Tabitha.   About 25 people were here for that, many from our daughter-in-law’s family.  Everyone made a gingerbread house.

This was followed by a concert with our youngest son Pilgrim’s band at a local coffee house that evening.  Conveniently, his new girlfriend is in the band.

Sunday after church we continued a two-decade old tradition of giving a new Christmas tree ornament to everyone on the first Sunday of advent.

After that our son Michael returned to Chicago with Karina and Elena, and Tuesday Christian heads back to Seattle with Anne and the girls, Tabitha and Sarina.

If you are doing the math, we are talking 11 people for about 11 meals straight, with maybe 20 guests spread out over 4 days.

This is a recipe for exhaustion. We’re talking a churning of food, a constantly running dishwasher, the loud play or crying of small children as well as latent sibling rivalries expressed more discreetly than when they were kids.

This is not what the Pilgrims had in mind. (The other Pilgrims, not our Pilgrim.)  They could not have imagined that people could fly in for the week.  They could not have imagined a dishwasher, either.

But I would not trade my life for theirs.  Almost half of their settlement had died the previous winter, and the colony had suffered crushing losses through crop failures and disease.  In fact, they were ending a summer marked by drought.
Cooking and cleaning was more laborious in every way.  Daily bread was not something they found at the supermarket.

And yet they chose to be thankful.

Katie and I will certainly be grateful for a quiet Christmas, since the kids will be at their in-laws (we alternate years).  But we will be no more grateful then than we are now. Our kids are alive and well, with growing (gorgeous) grandkids who are healthy and loved.

Their parents have as much to learn as we did when we were their age, of course.   We are still learning ourselves; learning, for example, how to sit in a sea of chaos and reflect on the goodness of God.

Yes, we are tired. And yes, we see things we wish were different with each of our children.  To be sure, thanksgiving is always the antidote to discouragement.  But we have so little to be discouraged about, and so much to be grateful for.

As for fatigue? We will rest tonight under a blanket of grace and be blessed.

As Solomon said, the mercies of God are new every morning.

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About wally metts

Wally Metts is the daysman. He is director of graduate studies in communication at Spring Arbor University and is a pastor at Countryside Bible Church in Jonesville, MI. The father of four adult children, he and his wife Katie raise barn cats and Christmas trees in Michigan. His grandchildren call him Santa.

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