With the approach of Thanksgiving and the birth of my son in October, I find myself thinking about what it is I value most. My son, my husband and other family relationships top the list.
This is the first year that four generations of our family will be living in Charlotte and will be together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Recognizing the role each person and each generation plays in a family is crucial to understanding one another and nurturing close relationships. Such appreciation also ensures that family memories, traditions and stories stay vibrant and alive.
After my husband and I completed our active-duty naval service almost four years ago, we happily made our home here. My husband is a Charlotte native. His parents still live here and we wanted to live near them. Plus, we adore the peaceful, character-filled and growing metropolis that is the Queen City.
Then, almost a year ago, my husband's maternal grandparents made the move to Charlotte from Florida to join us. That made three generations living in south Charlotte, within a four-mile radius of one another. We can walk, bike or easily drive between Blakeney, Stonecrest and Ballantyne.
We value our frequent visits to each others' homes, dinners at our favorite Charlotte restaurants and outings to family events such as the Symphony in the Park.
My son makes the fourth generation of our family living here in Charlotte.
After four years of dealing with infertility, and several months into the paperwork, clearances and interviews involved in the home study phase of an adoption process, I found out that I was pregnant. Our son is a constant reminder of hope, joy, the reality of miracles and the answer to persistent and faithful prayers.
My husband's parents are our mentors in marriage and faith. It is because they are able to balance their roles as elders and friends that this adult parents-children relationship works.
We are able to seek their advice about any topic, situation or life event and enjoy each others' company as social companions and travel partners.
My mother-in-law is also the keeper of the family tree. It is because of her detailed cataloging of our family tree going back 14 generations to 1640 that we know, for example, that my son's first cousin nine generations removed is American poet Walt Whitman.
My mother-in-law is also a talented seamstress and sews treasures, like the quilted wall hanging and embroidered pillow for my son's nursery, that will be in the family for generations.
My husband's grandparents, the eldest generation, are the embodiment of history.
Grandpa, a World War II Army veteran, crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the HMS Queen Elizabeth and landed at Normandy a couple days after D-Day. His metal water canteen, upon which he engraved city names with his bayonet, tracks his movements through France, Germany and Great Britain. That canteen is displayed in my husband's office.
I have come to treasure the importance of family, no matter how small or how large. I look forward to raising my son with the stories of his family history.