It Takes a Clan

staying home is harder than ever

“Please stay home” I hear this plea every time my husband turns on the television. The same desperate words jump out at me the minute I click my computer power button. The warning comes because the desire to leave home overwhelms me, and most of you, more at this time of year than at any other. But this year we must not give into this yearning.

This is the month that our culture has set aside for thanksgiving. It ends with a day we usually gather to feast, but all through the weeks leading up to that day, we focus our hearts and thoughts on gratitude.  We give more than the ordinary amount of time and energy to naming and reflecting upon those things for which we are grateful.

no family is an island


Kristy and JohnnyBy the time Jay and I had been married not quite a dozen years, we were caring for two children with perplexing, challenging special needs. I am convinced that these experiences drew us closer together rather than pushing us apart because we didn’t have to cope with those challenges totally on our own. Answers to why Kristy and Johnny suffered the disabilities they did never appeared.  But, throughout their lives, there were “answering people” who empowered us to be the best possible parents who could be for them.

This month of Thanksgiving I dedicate my blog to them.

This is the time of the clan gatherings. We don’t call them that anymore.  But those with whom we spend our holidays, those with whom we celebrate the gifts of life, whether blood related or not, are our “clan.”

thank heaven for brothers and sisters

Just as we need families, the family needs a “clan,” a network of support beyond the walls of their immediate abode. These are the people who will be there for them when their own resources, material, psychological, emotional, or spiritual run low.  And it is to these same persons, we turn when we want to celebrate because they are the ones that best understand what it took to get to a place where festivity is the order of the day.

Jay and I are both the oldest children in our sibling group. While that may not have always seemed like a blessing when we were growing up, our brothers and sisters are first among those for whom I give thanks this November.

the last shall be first

My youngest sister, Beth, had the most direct impact on Kristy and Johnny’s well being. From the time she was thirteen through the years she was in college, she came to spend summers with our family. In Beth, my children had a “big sister” extra-ordinaire. She fully engaged in every moment of family life. When she was with us, our family had two “mothers.” What made her sojourn so valuable was that by living with us, she became completely comfortable with caring for two children with a seizure disorder. Her competency and confidence meant that we gained the freedom to spend time alone together, doing things that were actually fun, like going to the movies. She put some “ordinary” back into our inordinate lives.


She enabled Jay and me to continue to grow stronger, not just as parents, but as a committed couple. Without Beth’s presence we might have lost track of each other completely.  Because she was there for us, we are still “us.” Thank you, Beth.

Would love to hear what about your siblings makes you grateful.