As children, my parents created an anchor for me. It was a safe place, not perfect, but safe. A place where you are accepted and where family becomes friends. Where traditions are made and secrets are shared and memories are relived one after the other. About 2 ½ years ago, our little family moved far away from any immediate family. Far away meaning 18-24 hours. It’s not a jaunt down the road or a day trip. It is serious planning. It is organizing for weeks and packing for days. It is work. It means that the family anchor from my childhood isn’t within arm’s reach. When the kids are acting insane on Sundays, we can’t just run over to my parents for a change of scenery. When new babies are born or weddings occur or missionaries go away, we can’t always make it. We wish we could, but we can’t.
In all this thought about anchors and family stability, I came across some realizations that have strengthened me body and soul. While we might not have our family anchors, we have created a family anchor. Meaning one that is stable. One where safety and love and (moments of) peace abide. Where there is laughter and tears and fights and hugs. Where there are activities and work and scripture reading and testimony sharing. Where there is laundry and bike riding and baking and snuggling. Where words can hurt and words can help and words can inspire.
A few weeks ago, our church had a conference by leaders within our church. There are inspirational talks and ideas on personal development and altogether uplifting topics. It happens twice a year and is almost a “Mormon holiday”. There are activities and food and family get togethers. Our first conference away from family was 2 ½ years ago, a few weeks after we had moved to Iowa and had our Iowa baby, William. It was a bit sad. It was lonely. We didn’t know anybody really and had to come up with our own traditions. It was hard and it felt forced. Fast forward to two weeks ago when the conference occurred. I didn’t feel an itch of homesickness. I didn’t feel that twinge for what everyone out West was doing or how much we were missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, we love those people with all our hearts, but we had finally found our place. We had finally created our family anchor. We had snacks and activities and fun. We went on a family walk in the brisk fall weather. We took a nap. We had a wonderful time.
It made me think of one day when our kids have grown and moved away and on (selfishly, I hope they don’t move too far!) Will they long for our family anchor or will they be busy making their own. Will they borrow ideas from our traditions and their friend’s traditions and their in law’s traditions and make a family anchor so intertwined that they won’t be able to tell which piece is which? My hope is that they make their own. That if they move to a far off land of Texas or New York or Europe, that they have the realization that them creating their family doesn’t change our family. That one generation creates the next. That family is forever. That the intertwining vines on our family trees create a beautiful anchor and a safe harbor.
Found this picture HERE