By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
This last week we celebrated two joyous family occasions – the birthday of our son Mars and the birthday of one of our great grandchildren Christopher. Both celebrations were family times, eating times, and bonding times. That is one thing I love about the Philippines – that we have as many as possible family gatherings throughout the year.
I remember that when I was growing up, the Fourth of July was the day of our annual family reunion at the Russell farmstead in Russellville, Shrewsbury, Vermont. The whole Russell family (Dad had three brothers and one sister) complete down to the grandchildren and close family friends gathered on that day to renew friendship with all the dozens of cousins, aunties and uncles, many of whom we only met on that day every year. Everyone brought food so there was always plenty to eat. Dad’s stepmother, Chellie, provided watermelons which had to all be eaten because she made delicious watermelon pickle out of the rinds.
When we could eat no more, the adults would sit out on the lawn under the huge maple trees and catch up on the year’s tales of family doings. There were many activities to keep us youngsters active: splashing in a nearby brook, playing hide and seek, trying to pump the pedals on the ancient “player piano” to see the keys move and music grind forth, seeing who could spit the watermelon seeds the farthest, or just laying on the grass watching the clouds go by with one’s new found “best” friend. A wonderful day of family and friends!
We seldom found time during our everyday activities to write letters to each other. So on July 4 we crammed a whole year of happenings into that day’s gathering of family and friends. We always left feeling refreshed, although tired, and ready for the year ahead, replete with good food and memories to be treasured in our hearts.
Family and friends are like letters to the world, letting those who meet us glimpse our character, our lifestyle and the quality of our friendship, so that they become our friends, too. A friend can be someone you have known all your life or someone you met a week ago, or that cousin you had a crush on but only met during the annual family reunion.
Family and friends are the source of love and growth, people who can share our joys and disappointments, our tears and our laughter. I now realize that whatever the celebration is, and whenever it is, of family and friends, these letters to the world are written in our lives to be shared with the world until updated at next family celebration.
P.S. The birthday boy, Christopher, is the one with a green shirt.