With Thanksgiving fast approaching in America, it got me remembering when I was a kid during these big family dinners at these special occasions. Luckily for me, I was one of the oldest grandchildren and always got to eat at the 'adult table' where I considered all the real action to be. I remember listening to their discussions, banter, teasing, jokes and serious conversations. It was an opportunity to learn about life and others besides partaking in my Granny's amazing turkey stuffing along with the other goodies in arms reach. As the extended family grew, there was eventually a kids table alongside the adult table. Possibly your family will have the same set up this next holiday weekend.
Lately, I have been thinking about the relationships that I have with children in my own life and their importance. When I was little, I remember thinking I was so insignificant in comparison to the bigger than life personalities that made every family gathering so fun. I had so much fun growing up in a family of incredible grandparents, aunts, uncles and eventually cousins that never ceased to make me laugh. My own immediate family got to enjoy this life and love much of the time.
My perspective has changed though in terms of the importance and role that children in a family play. When I travel home to visit my extended family on holidays, I am excited to see everyone, but certainly the little ones. They bring so much joy, unexpected comments, fun and laughter that it simply wouldn't be the same without them. I got to spend some extra time with my niece and nephew this summer and I was enamored by every little thing they said and did. Children bring us out of our own stuffy self and allow us to have some time just being 'real': not insignificant at all. They are all so unique and I love getting to reconnect with them as well as their parents, of course.
There is a little girl that sometimes sits with me at church if I attend on a weekday. She is my Godchild and her mama allows her to come sit with me when she chooses. I try to keep her as quiet as I can during mass but her sweet perspective and quirky comments make it hard to do so. I got a chance to hold my friends' newborn baby tonight and it was absolutely magical. I am not at all surprised that Jesus said, "Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt 19:14).
I encourage you to really appreciate and enjoy the time you may have at any upcoming family holiday celebrations, especially if you get the chance to interact with any of the children there. Soak in their sweetness and unique perspective on things. Be like Jesus and let the children come to you!