Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful: Circle Post

Nye Beach, Newport, Oregon.

You may remember from this post on courage last month, that I participate in a blog circle with amazing, creative women from all over the globe. On the third Thursday of each month (today!), our circle of 15 women each post on a particular topic.  It's kind of like a game of "Tag! You're it!" The first blogger writes her post, sharing a hyperlink to her sister blogger at the bottom. This goes on and on until the circle is complete. If you click on all the hyperlinks (please do!), you should experience an array of creative, inspiring blogs and posts!

This month's topic is: Thankfulness.


Every year, my father's side of the family gathers together on the Oregon coast for Thanksgiving.

The drive always starts like this: the high desert and Starbucks. Lots and lots of Starbucks.
Leaving the high-desert valley, junked up on coffee, ready for the long drive southwest: to the ocean we go.
Six to seven hours later, we all huddle together in my great-grandmother's house, now belonging to a cousin.

From the cliff side, the home overlooks the Pacific. It's a home of love. There's no other way I can describe it. Our history is seeped in those walls; it's our safe place: we know we all belong there.

 
My great-grandmother, Margaret. Could these photos be any more amazing? She died when I was young, but I have some memories of her and I know, through family, through our stories, how kind she was. And stubborn. And strong. She always sat at that table, smoking. She's also shown here sharing photographs to her grandson, my cousin. We still have all these photo albums in the house and we all look at them every year now (in fact, we have similar photos of US looking at albums. And so it continues..)

Great-grandma bought the house years ago. My cousins grew-up here. Four generations have memories of Thanksgivings, Christmases, births and deaths. F was only 10 days old the first time she visited.

Norma in her chair with the wall of family beside her. There, we have pictures of our ancestors and even framed letters.  Our children now get measured, just as we did. My daughter is shown here being measured last year.
We measure the children here. We teach them about where they come from. They sit on chairs my great-great grandfather made. We see ourselves in photographs that belong to another time, another person; those who are in us, who made us.

The steep trail from great-grandma's down to the beach, Oregon coast.

Our children now walk down the same trail we took, through the old pines, leading us to the beach.  It belongs to this fourth generation, too. And they know it.

Last year, my niece, who was only four and who lives a seven hour drive from this place, said with a sigh when she walked through the door of great-grandma's place,
"Ahhh. We're home."

They know it in their bones. They know this is where they're from, too. Where our family stays connected, even if we're far apart.

Our family: beach time, bonfires. Love. Oregon Coast.

I'm not saying my family is perfect. Nothing's perfect. But we're family.

We spend a very long weekend together playing games, laughing, drinking, sitting around the fire. We walk to the beach. We debate politics and religion. We eat the family traditional potato casserole. We drink some more. The kids run. We cry.

We go around in a circle before we eat and every.single.person shares what happened/their big news of the year. Even the young ones get a turn. Their voices are heard. (Usually for the longest!)

Afterward our meal, we usually get a special private concert thrown by my two pre-teen cousins who are fantastic musicians. They both play piano and one plays the violin. They each get a turn performing for us and this is something I especially love.  And will especially miss. They're crazy talented and S even writes/composes his own beautiful music.

We love each other...regardless of how crazy we are, because we're part of one another.

Norma, my cousin, who will be very missed this Thanksgiving, as she passed away this year.

Some of us won't be at the family gathering this year. We're in Myanmar.  My cousin, E, is in Australia studying. N is bringing new life into this world (any day now!); still, no doubt: family will also be thinking of those we've lost this year. And those lost years before.

 Name magnets I made for each of our family members last year at Thanksgiving. I knew we were moving to Myanmar soon after; my way of showing gratitude + love to my family was making all these crazy magnets.

Thanksgiving is the most special holiday for me. Writing this post is hard. I'm feeling terribly sentimental and sappy.  I want to be with my family next week.  I want F to continue being part of this tradition.

This morning, I mentioned to her that Thanksgiving is next week. Her big, steely blue eyes got wide; a small gasp escaped. And then I saw in her face what I felt: this heavy recognition that we would not all be together and we'd have to find our own way to celebrate.(And we will. I'm hopeful we have some friends coming around...)

Yet, I am just grateful we had the last six years in the US so we could be at most of the gatherings (except when we lived on the East Coast).  I am grateful the F knows the importance of our family Thanksgivings and despite being young, it's clear to me she realizes how special it is.

I am grateful for my family.  I am grateful for my great-grandmother who kept us together, who taught us what family means.

If any of you (my dear, crazy family) are reading this: I love you and I miss you.

I have my Japanese Lanterns here (I shipped them) and if we have a dinner, they will be right in the middle of the table.  I'm lucky you're my family.

In honor of my family, I wrote a poem (sort-of) from the perspective of my great-grandmother. I had posted an excerpt of it here. It's called "Into the Fire." 

This month, I’m honored to be linked-up with my sister flyer, the very talented photographer, Gail Haile, of New York. Please follow this hyperlink to her gorgeous page, Haile Fine Photography, and read her lovely post about practicing courage. 


40 comments:

  1. :) Thank you Becky..

    love you!!

    dad

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    1. Thanks, Dad :) Wish I could be there with you guys this year!

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  2. How wonderful to have such a tight knit family! It sounds beautiful and a great time. The beach, trees, family and tradition. I hope you have a wonderful time in Burma this year, and hopefully get to visit them another time soon.
    Chandra

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    1. Thank you, Chandra!!! :) I hope you have a great holiday season.

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  3. I had the same type of childhood growing up in my grandparents home. Next door was the home that my great-great-grandfather built when they first came to the Seattle area. I know EXACTLY how it felt to walk through that door and know I was "HOME"! I loved seeing your photos and reading your memories!!
    HuGGs!
    Debi

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    1. Hi Debi -
      You're so lucky! How amazing that next door to your grandparents' home was the house your gg grandfather built. That's so special!

      Thank you for your kind comment!

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  4. Beautiful post and beautiful family. and beautifully said! I loved the pictures too. I understand the feeling of "home" too - knowing when I'm there. What a wonderful tradition, and i hope you make it back for a visit soon.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Vickie. I hope I make it home to visit, soon, too. :)

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  5. oh, i love that you have had that house in your family for so, so long! how very special for all of you. our families seem to move around a bit more ... miss that true going "home" feeling. we do have a wall in the garage of my parent's current home (for past 20 years) that has many of our heights measured out each year. thanks for the reminder about how valuable and & meaningful these little connections to family are ... (and our wall of measurements in the garage just might show up in one of my 30 days of gratitude photos). :) great post becky!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn! I hope to see photos of that garage wall filled with measurements in one of your posts. :) It would be sooo cool to see that. ;)

      Thank you for your sweet comment!

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  6. A beautiful post Becky, I love reading your writings and seeing your pictures. It is wonderful to be a part of such a close knit family and I really do think the time spent away from our family (hard as it is) make us more appreciative of them. I too hope you make it back to visit again soon.

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    1. Thank you, Judith! You are right: being far away from family does make you appreciate them more.

      Thank you for kind thoughts.

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  7. This post is so meaningful. I had similar experiences growing up that ground me. Now, my family is spread all over. My immediate family is up to 16 people so the extended family doesn't really want to accommodate the whole group anymore. Who would? No one has space for 40, but I always have the memory of those beautiful times... like you do.

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    1. Hi Jean,
      So happy to hear that you had similar experiences. I hope that some time, your extended family, too, can get together - everyone. Maybe there's a way a bunch of you could chip-in and rent a lodge or a big 'ol house or something. Your comment made me realize how fortunate we are that we do have the ability to accommodate everyone in our family. Sometimes it means some of us staying at a separate location, just a few miles away, but that has its benefits, too. At least we're all together.

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  8. Oh Becky.Your post made me get all teary eyed. I could just feel the love, the traditions being passed on.Thank you for sharing so deeply from your heart.This iwll be my first Christmas that my oldest daughter won't be able to come home. I am struggling with that one. Take care, blessings, Nancy

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    1. Aww, thank you, Nancy! I'm sorry that your oldest daughter won't be home this Xmas. I am sure that will be difficult. Wishing you lots of love around the holidays.

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  9. This is just lovely...I too was teary. I live an hour from there and years ago lived in Newport. I am a beach girl and I know how special, wonderful and wild it is there. I was just there last weekend....I would like to think I took a big, deep breath of salty air and sent good wishes your way! Happy Thanksgiving to you friend!

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    1. HI Kelli-
      Thanks! I know...the coast is so close to you! You're so lucky. If you ever go over to Nye Beach, please go to the Bead Shop (just above the bakery), stop in and ask for Linda. She's my cousin and she owns the shop. The other women who work there know who I am, too. Just tell them you're a friend of Becky's, Linda's cousin who moved to Burma. They'll know. :)

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  10. Reading your beautiful words and looking at the pictures of our family made me teary. Thank you for sharing and reminding me what is truly important this holiday. We are going to miss you terribly! XXX

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    1. Love you, Amy. I really wish we could be there. I'm going to do my best not to get all depressed on Thanksgiving! LOL

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  11. Becky- a terrific post and I loved your family photos. Just remember that you keep your family in your heart and they are always there with you! Have a Happy Thanksgiving. And I'll see you next month on the blog circle

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    1. Thank you, Sue! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, too!

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  12. What a beautiful tribute. Our first child was born an ocean away from my family. I remember well how difficult it was to be so far away during her first years. Still, our kids both seem to have a natural bond, an understanding of family, that distance does not seem to diminish. Thank you for the reminder of how precious these bonds are. I think I'll call my mom this morning :-)

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    1. Hi Janice,
      So lovely that your kids have that strong bond re: family, despite the distance. I feel hopeful that my daughter will have that, too.

      I hope you had a great call with your mom this morning!!

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  13. Beck you wrote a beautifully heart-warming post about family, love, and traditions. I could feel the love and connections in your family with every word you wrote. And your wise niece 'Ahhh. We're Home!', it's so incredibly beautiful how at such a young age they recognize it as home. I loved seeing the walls of photographs even of your ancestors and even framed letters. I also believe that our ancestors must be remembered and what better way than to display them in a photo. Blessings to you and your family... may this Thanksgiving be one that is still filled with love where you will feel your family's love and connection from a distance as if you were right there with them. xo

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    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you for your kind words. I think it's very important to remember where and who we came from as well. Even as a child I was fascinated with genealogy/family history. My grandfather would spend a lot of time with me, showing and explaining to me old photographs of our family. I could listen to the stories for hours. I loved them. For whatever reason, it's very important to me.

      Thank you so much for your lovely words. ;)

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  14. Truly beautiful and moving, Becky. Thank you.
    Ok, need to go wipe the tears from my eyes.

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  15. awe aunty becky. ive been reading your blog. im going to start my own. thats amazing. -kaylabug

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    1. <3 Love you, sweet, Kayla-Bug. Can't wait to read your blog. Yes. Start one. And keep writing.

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  16. Becky - this post was so beautiful and heartfelt! Thank you for sharing so deeply with us all!!! :)

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  17. This was an amazing post! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt memories and allowing me to walk down my own, with lots of tears and smiles. :)

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  18. What is it about potato casserole? Seems like every family has their own special one!
    I am excited to hear about new traditions that emerge while you are at your new home.
    So hard to feel you are missing out on something special... especially when you know exactly what you are missing. Sorry.
    nik

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  19. Beautiful post...I can relate to so much of it. The ties that bind...those connections are priceless.
    June Maddox

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  20. Hi Becky! Last month was a bit packed and I didn't take the time to comment on everyone's posts in the circle, but I'm doing it today before we post the new one! This is a beautiful post and, as ever, your photos are gorgeous! So full of love and emotion!

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Laly!

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