My husband and I are fortunate that a good chunk of both our immediate families live within a ten minute drive of our home. By the way, if you're not from Chicago, you should know we measure everything in terms of time, not distance. Because the 30 miles to downtown Chicago can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on a lot of things, not the least of which is whether or not they've closed the Kennedy for the President's motorcade on his third visit in as many weeks. Yeesh.
But I digress.
When we were first looking at houses in Elk Grove, I thought this was a bad thing, being so close to 80% of Dan's family - his parents and one brother were in Elk Grove, another brother just over the border in Schaumburg. The first time I went to pick up a prescription at Osco they tried to give me various remedies meant for other family members. Walmart's photo shop was always giving me my sister-in-law's pictures. I quickly learned to screen before paying. My complaining stopped when I realized two weeks after we moved in that I was pregnant with twins and had extremely accessible back-up in the wings.
My parents are a quick jaunt down the expressway, halfway between our house and where I work. My brother is less than an hour away. So we all get to see each other a decent amount. The other members of the family are much farther away.
Dan has a brother in Florida and I have one sister in Colorado and another in Sydney, Australia. Literally the other side of the world. So we don't see much of them. But when they come, it's non-stop.
Last week was one of those visits. Ironically, both Dan's Florida brother and my Colorado sister came the same week to visit. It ended up working out very well in that we got to spend a lot of time with both of them. They each had lots of other people to visit and often did that when we were spending time with the other one. We were grateful for that. The hard part was the week also included two baseball playoff games for Dan and Ryan (not to mention All Star weekend), our participation in a neighborhood garage sale, the launch of a summer Bible study at church where I lead a group, and a very busy work week with no vacation time.
Except for the day I hosted a dinner for 16 and the garage sale day, I was leaving the house by 7:30am and not returning until between 9:30-11pm. We packed a lot in. We feasted on both food and company and enjoyed the time, the conversation and yes...all the stuff we ate!
In the past a week like this would have sent me right over the edge, stressing me out and keeping me so busy preparing for the mini celebrations that I wouldn't have stopped to enjoy them much. Last week, that wasn't the case. It's true I was completely exhausted at the end of each day but that just made the pillow all the sweeter.
The experience reminded me a little of Joseph (for the non-Bible readers think Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Joseph suffered a great deal, but God had a profound purpose for him. After faithful service, wrongful accusations, a prison term, several dream interpretations and the gained trust of Pharaoh, God used Joseph to save up seven years worth of plenty to sustain the people during the seven years of famine that followed. Joseph, full of wisdom and discernment, sought God out, listened to His voice and gave credit to God alone for the favor shown. (Genesis 41:16, 39)
I guess the principle is kind of the same. To store up all the time we can with our loved ones while they are here to carry us through the drought when we lack their company. Last week was a feast.
I'm still pretty full.