Happy 2018! Last night, we returned from a whirlwind trip to Kansas City, where we spent the week with my family for the first time in years. It really was a great time, even if it was cold, busy and chaotic. That’s kind of the way my family is during the holidays….. NOT cold, but busy and chaotic! Laughter, kids, memories, and constant activity is pretty much the norm for us.
My family is big……maybe not big by some people’s standards, but my parents were each one of 5 children, and I am also one of 5 (all girls). My parents have 11 grandchildren, a few of them have spouses, and there is one great grandchild (my grandson). My daughter’s boyfriend has 2 children, who only added to the fun! My sister also had two other guests, who were visiting from Japan, and they added to the fun and laughter. Between all of the people, 2 dogs, the great food, cousins leg wrestling on the family room floor, Nerf gun fights, building train tracks on the floor, pretending to cook (and eat) the Fisher Price food, and our excursions into the city to visit the Nelson Atkins Museum (Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Warhol, etc), Union Station, Crown Center, ice skating (just the kids….not me!), breakfast with my aunt and nieces, Al and I going out with a childhood friend of mine, and Al going out for a jazz night at Plaza III with our brother in-law, it was a packed few days! The cold temps didn’t stop the fun! My family welcomes everyone, and treats everyone with love and acceptance, if they are willing to put up with our noise and silliness! This is really the first time Al has had a chance to spend any real time with a lot of my family. He got to see first hand how loving and accepting they are.
I thought back on times when my sisters and our families would all gather at my parents each year (either on Thanksgiving or Christmas). At times, there might be around 23 of us packed into their little ranch home in Springfield, Missouri. Noise, laughter, children, food, games, movies, sports on TV, and just spending time together laughing and reminiscing was such fun. Or the times when we would gather at my grandmother’s house in Wichita with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins……times change, families grow, and loved ones leave us eventually…….but no one can take my memories.
2017 was not easy on me in a lot of ways. I’ve tried to stay positive, and grateful for all I have, even when I’m physically struggling. My first trip to Europe, which I was so looking forward to, turned out to be very hard because of a lot of the physical problems I was having, without knowing what was wrong with me. I tried to do what I could, but I ended up spending a lot of time unable to enjoy a lot of it. Once we got back, and I got a diagnosis (a benign brain tumor, called an acoustic neuroma), I had to figure out a lot of things. I dove into information, trying to learn all I could about it. But mostly, I counted my blessings. It could have been a lot worse. My emotions went into overdrive……I can cry at the drop of a pin, and I have a few unpleasant symptoms that are the new normal for me, but I started appreciating things I hadn’t even noticed before! I also told myself I would not waste time on people or things that were negative or tried to drain my happiness.
I’ve had a lot of hard times in my life, but I’ve also had a lot of very happy times. My big family has provided so many happy moments for me, and the memories of the love and laughter keep me going. I always try to stay positive and not let negativity bring me down, but that seems so much more important now. So, like every year, I will vow to keep my chin up, stay positive, be nice, friendly, compassionate, and happy. Even though I have been presented with a new obstacle, it doesn’t change my outlook on life. It may be a new year, but it’s the same love and appreciation that I always strive for.
The important things in life are love, loved ones, laughter, memories, and good health. Laugh and learn to enjoy everything you have. Cut out the negativity and negative people who don’t love you back, don’t care about you, or don’t appreciate you. Stay positive. Stay happy. Enjoy the chaos and laughter in life. Don’t waste time sitting around getting old. I’m so thankful I come from a family who loves to laugh and have fun…..it keeps us young and healthy!
It’s great to be home where it’s a little warmer, but I have some great new memories of this trip, and of my big family and friends. Happy New Year, and here’s to a fun 2018, filled with love and laughter……curing all that ails us!