This time of year, I see many friends posting things they’re thankful for on facebook, usually one thing per day for the month of November. As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve also been thinking about what I’m thankful for. I realized this past week that everything I’m thankful for seems to stem from one source:
My husband and I (and our two youngest) just returned from a quick trip to Utah. We flew out for my husband’s grandfather’s funeral. EJ Morgan was such an amazingly humble, devoted father, grandfather, and husband. So much so, that my hubby and I spent the ride home wondering how we can be more like him. I think that’s going to be our new reminder phrase: “Be like Grandpa.”
Through the course of EJ’s life, he married three wonderful women. He had seven kids with his first wife, including my mother-in-law. When Grandma Annie passed away, EJ married again, and she brought five more kids into his family. When she passed, he married again (a month after that photo above was taken) and brought her six kids into the family. That’s 18 kids he considered his own, which gave him 92 grandkids (one for each year he was alive) and something like 250 great-grandkids. Huge family, right? Yet the remarkable thing was, their families were never “your kids or my kids.” Regardless of biology, they were always “ours.”
Even more remarkable, all but a small few were in attendance to honor him. Many flew in from around the country, plus EJ’s brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and the whole town, it seemed. To give you an idea of the attendance, his family couldn’t fit into the Primary Room for the family prayer and spilled out into the hallways where they placed speakers so we could hear what was said. When it was time to file into the chapel for the service, it took 15 minutes for the family to be seated. They roped off the entire chapel area just for his posterity. Everyone else started in the overflow and went into the gym. The poor, sweet RS ladies had to feed 280 people for the family luncheon. It was ginormous. All to honor a man I consider one of the most Christ-like men I’ve ever met.
You see, EJ Morgan was the kind of sweet, gentle man who made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. In his mind, you were.
My hubby and I have a lot of room for improvement if we’re going to “Be like Grandpa.” A lot!
But what made the funeral even sweeter for me was two of my husband’s aunts sang a vocal duet. When the accompaniment started, I jerked up. It was my mom’s song, my favorite arrangement of hers: I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES. It was so beautiful! It was like linking my husband’s family and mine.
What a great day.
In between and around the funeral, we spent time with my husband’s family–who I absolutely adore–and mine–who I likewise adore. We played card games, laughed, and talked without stopping.
I played fun, quirky perfect pitch games with my mom and youngest daughter, and I talked books and life with my dad. On the way home, I finished reading my dad’s newest book, THE GUARDIAN: TO RUN WITH THE SWIFT (which is awesome, amazing, intense, fun, and something you should definitely read!!!).
And now I’m back at home with my kids, and I can’t help but think how thankful I am for families, both my husband’s and mine. Everything I love about my life, everything I’m grateful for, everything that makes me happy has stemmed from our families. Even my religious beliefs, which I hold close to my heart and affect everything I do, were taught to me and my husband by generations of faithful, humble saints–and now continues down through our five children.
Can you tell my heart is overflowing?
So if I were to follow tradition and post daily in November on facebook about something I am thankful for, every single day it would say:
November 1: Family
November 2: Family
November 3: Family
Since I didn’t want to bore (or confuse) my friends on facebook, I thought I’d try to explain here.
All that I am, all that my husband is, all that my children are becoming is because of our families. What a blessing they are to me/us/everyone.
I hope the same is true for you. I hope your family is at the heart of your gratitude this Thanksgiving. And I hope they know it. Even if they are a dysfunctional, crazy lot, they gave you life, and I bet they taught you much of who you are today (even if the lesson was, “Don’t do what I’m doing.”). :)
While selling books is fun and writing music is a blast, while I’d love to be a NY Times bestselling author some day and compose songs which change the world, those things are just fluff. They aren’t substantial. They don’t produce lasting joy, just temporary smiles. Happiness, real, true, lasting happiness comes back to the family. It always has. It always will.
So this Thanksgiving, I hope to show some of my gratitude by giving back to my/our families. I hope to show more respect, to say “thanks” a little more, give hugs a little more, cheer up a little bit more. I hope to give back a tiny little bit of what our families have given me/us.
I hope you can, too.