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"Seasons and Occasions to Still Celebrate"

In just a short while, I will be rejoining my extended family for a celebration - a family wedding. Over the course of the past month, I've been interacting with my family by phone and we've been sharing how exciting it will be to have the family together, once again, in one location. I can't express how much fun it is to be with them.

As a child, holiday gatherings were big. Every year, one family decided to host Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter at their home. Then all the families would meet there to celebrate that holiday occasion. I would spend most of my time with my cousins and the adults spent their time remembering and sharing wonderful stories.

As I got older, I began spending more time with the adults because I wanted to hear them share stories of the past, stories about my relatives, and how we were related. So many of them made me realize some of the hardships our families had to overcome, especially during very difficult, and sometimes painful, circumstances. It made me appreciate the family God allowed me to be a part of.

But another key component to these gatherings was humor. That is one gift my father passed on to us, and he got it from his family. I can't remember a time when we got together and it was all serious talk. If you can believe it, even when my father was very ill in the hospital, humor was still a part of that very difficult time. Even my dad made humorous comments despite the pain he was in. Every celebration or time spent together always had humor at the very core. Sometimes the laughter and joy was so intense that we found ourselves with tears in our eyes.

Well, that's the excitement I'm feeling about seeing my family shortly. Unfortunately many of my relatives no longer live in one location as they did when I was younger. But even though I may not get to see them weekly or monthly, when we do get together, it's as if I was with them last week.

I know I will be thinking of my father during this special occasion. Often, he was the center of the joy and laughter. He knew how to put a smile on each family member's face and, he knew how to touch their hearts. It was a natural gift he had - a unique way of connecting, a way of loving, a way of giving him to us.

Although my father can no longer be with us physically, he definitely resides within our hearts. He's made an indelible mark on my life and countless others. I know I will never be the same and I'm grateful for him, especially for passing on his gift of humor.

There will be lots of joy shared, lots of tears shed, and I know my father's presence will still be felt. I'm confident my father would want us to celebrate this time together, and yes, even laugh. And with every humorous memory shared and the new ones we create, I believe he will be looking down on his family and smiling and, at times, even laughing.

Thanks dad for giving us that sense of family, that feeling of belonging and the security of knowing you unconditionally loved us.

With love,