Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MY SEASON OF GRATITUDE: November 14, 2013

Shake my family tree and you'll likely find just as much uniqueness and dysfunction as you would by shaking any other. I've become fond of saying that the term "dysfunctional family" is a redundancy! Ask anyone and you'll learn that we each believe that our own familial idiosyncrasies are the most profound. I guess it's just another form of self-validation. But we are who we are largely because of our foundation of family.

The four main roots of my own family tree are planted firmly in the rocky red clay of North Georgia. Forged in the fire and brimstone of Southern Baptist tradition, I was raised in a world of right, wrong, good, evil, black and white that bears only a passing resemblance to reality. While it may not be the most realistic representation of the world, it certainly helps to prepare one for the constant decision-making required to survive there.

From the stiff-spined,ultra-conservative stoicism of the one root to the laissez-faire, whatever works liberalism of the other, my family tree seems more the result of grafting than of natural selection. For example, the story goes that my uber-sanctimonious great grandfather who was an elder in the church questioned my great-uncle-by-marriage about why he and my great aunt had yet to “bring forth fruit”. The uncle, taking umbrage at such a question, replied, “it's none of your GD business!”. Whereupon he was summarily “churched” (excommunicated for non-Baptists.) Family ties notwithstanding, I guess it was a “churchable” offense.

Growing up with such a dichotomy in the family lore helped to provide a balance in my perspective on things. My dad, the middle child of 10, and my mom, an only child (despite many efforts to make it otherwise by my grandparents), were/are the yin/yang in my life, as I have previously described. They are each a fair representation of their family backgrounds and that balance, I think, is the key.

While I could repeat tale after illustrative tale of life on the farm, at school, in church, etc. from the family compendium (thanks largely to the MASHBURNS), the point is this:

If friends are the family you choose, then what's so important about family?

Love 'em or hate 'em: EVERYTHING!

And for mine, I live in gratitude.

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