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Family Gatherings

Story ID:4244
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Year:2008
Person:My Family
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Family Gatherings

Labor Day week-end marks the end of summer for most Americans, including my own family. But this past week-end also marked the beginning of our Kansas State University football season and a three day visit with our children and grandchildren.

“Mom, we’re coming to Manhattan on Labor Day week-end,” my son, Kirk, said one night on the phone. “I want to take the family to the first K-State game. Call Karen and see if they can come, too.” And so it happened that our family was once again allotted precious time together.

We’d all attended a wedding in Las Vegas in late June. Very little gambling occurred. Instead, we spent time with my three brothers, their families and our family. Beats the slots anytime. We watched our niece get married in a beautiful chapel in the elegant Paris Hotel. What better place for a high school French teacher to say her “I do?”

I find each family gathering more important with each passing year. The gray in my hair and the creak in my bones reminds me that time for such things grows short.

These family get-togethers take a toll on me lately, at least when they happen at my house. It means a lot of cooking ahead and cooking while they’re with us. It means setting up air mattresses and making sure guest rooms are ready, that bathrooms all have the right amount of shampoo, soap and toilet paper. It means hauling in a truckload of groceries including adult beverages and lots more milk than my refrigerator normally sees. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Saturday afternoon, we all went to the football stadium to tailgate, and then six stayed for the game, four went back to the house to listen to it on the radio. We all celebrated a big win over North Texas State when the game ended. Sunday our son-in-law’s parents joined us. The men played golf, the women and children checked out the mall, and we gathered later around our dining room table for dinner and to celebrate two birthdays.

Monday morning, each family packed up, had a final breakfast, and hugged us good-bye before they headed home. One family lives seven and a half hours south to Dallas and the other 2 hours east to Kansas City. The house felt sad with the sudden silence- no more children’s giggles, no more dogs barking, no more chatter flying back and forth amongst the adults. Just we two senior citizens left to pick up and put away the toys until next time, wash all the sheets and towels, and sweep the kitchen floor.

Late in the morning, I sat down with a second cup of coffee and reflected on the preceding happy days we’d spent with our family. I felt tired but totally at peace and filled with contentment. In less than four months they’d all be here again to celebrate Christmas. I sat up straight in my chair. It was time to start thinking about December menus and all the other parts of a Christmas visit. I can hardly wait!