Please don’t get me wrong, but the definition, duties, and responsibilities of families have taken on a much different tone, look, meaning, and approach since my younger days.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s (maybe even into the early 80’s), the family unit still remained intact and valuable.  Time was set aside to visit, care for,  and minister one to another.  Then, the structure of the family unit started to change and break apart through various trials, tribulations, and “blended” families.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are good reasons behind today’s “blended” families.  Nevertheless, years ago, a child typically had only two sets of grandparents, one from their mother’s side and one from their father’s side.  Not today. One child can have four to six sets of grandparents through divorce and remarriage. After this happens, scheduling immediate family gatherings starts becoming a nightmare; and don’t even try extended family gatherings. They simply don’t exist!  First, you have to find the “weekend” visitation that best fits the tossed back-and-forth children, then you have to make sure the event doesn’t conflict with ball games or other more important interests and activities, then you have to make sure it doesn’t conflict with someone’s work schedule.  Then, after you have finally found a date on the calendar six months in advance, you have to “nail-down” who can and who can’t make it!  But, before the scheduled event actually takes place, everyone and everybody has updated their daily planners and they can’t make it on that day anymore!!  So, the process either starts all over again; or you just cancel the whole thing! It used to be far less complicated.

In the midst of today’s overly busy society, family (biological, extended, and blended) is still important.  And family members actually do get sick; and even die.  Lord, help us if we die on a day when all of the family can’t arrange to be together for the visitation and funeral!  Yet, we are seeing that happening more and more. Less and fewer people are attending funerals these day.  Sadly, the poor deceased soul just happened to die on a day that everyone (I’m talking about family now) couldn’t get off work or they had another event scheduled, so they just couldn’t make it.

You know what gets top priority these days?  Ball games and ball practice.  Now, if you are a ball coach and you die, you should get a pretty good viewing of people at your funeral. But, if you are just a regular grandmother, grandfather, or Lord help us, great-grandmother or great-grandfather….you are out of luck! You’ll be fortunate if you have ten people at your services!!

Then, there is the “more-valued” side of the family. Now, mind you this can fall upon the wife’s side or the husband’s side of the family, but now a days one side or the other seems to trump or top the other side.  I can recall when my children were growing up that my husband and I practically killed ourselves making it to both sides of the family on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Not now. One side, usually the favored side (either the husband or wife’s side) gets to gather on the actual holiday and the other side (the less favored side) has to use an alternative day to gather…either the day before, the day after, or even a week before or a week after!

To be honest, I actually believe Hallmark should remove Mother’s Day and Father’s Day from the yearly calendar…They don’t work like they once did.  This Mother’s Day, I was fortunate enough to LEAVE TOWN!!! YEA!! I hope to leave town for every Mother’s Day for the rest of my life!  It was so nice not having to wonder which child would visit or call and which child wouldn’t!  This year, none of them had to visit….I wasn’t home! Great solution! But, let me quickly add this fact. My second daughter and her husband “gave” me and my husband their condo in Destin for a week-long vacation..Yippee! The ultimate Mother’s Day gift! And, my oldest daughter did pleasantly call to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day…But, at least no one had to make plans, reschedule plans, or cancel plans to visit me at home! LOL!

In my younger days, it was just accepted that adult children and grandchildren visited their parents and grandparents as often as possible.  Today, it is expected for the parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents to make it easy on their adult children by visiting them at the ballpark…After all, that’s where they spend pretty much most of their lives if they are not at work or attending church!  Thank the Lord for church…Blessed, precious church.  But, if you are not fortunate enough to attend the same church as your married, adult children and grandchildren…then you pretty much go to church with everyone else’s children and grandchildren….not your own; just as the other people are going to church with your’s!

So, with this scenario in place comes the fact that children tend to conclude that so-and-so and so-and-so at their own church are more valued and respected than their own biological family (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins…no need mentioning second cousins because no one knows who they even are anymore!).

So, the meaning of family, duties, responsibilities and the value placed on time spent for family gatherings (both quality and quantity) have taken on a twenty-first century mind-set and change!  Some for the good….some; not so good.  At times, I wish we could all turn back the hands of time in order to visit our grandmothers and great-grandmothers just one more time (grandfathers, too).  To see their sweet little faces always filled with joy and unconditional love; never having nor knowing the modern-day conveniences of today’s life that’s suppose to “free-up” our time!

Please understand, I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just remembering a time in life that has passed us all by. A time of real home-made ice cream, home-grown vegetables, beans on the stove, hot biscuits, corn-bread or day-old corn-bread covered up on the kitchen table with a sheet, grandma’s white cotton apron, backyard dodge ball or tag with all the cousins, Aunt Annie driving down from Dalton every Sunday to check on Grandma, talks around the kitchen table, and lots of love and laughter all around. I so treasure those fun-filled and blessed memories of family gatherings.  To think about it…This is all reminding me that I need to go visit  my own mother-in-law in the nursing home. I try to go once a week….After all, it won’t be too many more years (if I live that long) that I, too, will be wondering if anyone will come by to visit me.

Today, I’m so thankful that God is never too busy for family or His schedule is never too filled that He cannot take of His time to visit, to speak, to soothe and to comfort our hearts; as only He can do.  We just simply have to call-out his name and He is there.  He doesn’t have to make plans, get permission, or even have a cell-phone to look down at the number or recognize the ring-tone before He answers.  After all, we are in His family…The Family of God…And, he, too, loves when we visit Him…God loves family gatherings.  Ain’t God so Good to give so many blessings.

Today, if you have the time….call someone in your family and just simply tell them that you love them.  You don’t need a holiday or special occassion; just do it.  Afterall, isn’t that what we all really want to hear…I love you, Mom.  I love you, Dad.  I love you Sis, I love you Brother, I love you Grandma (or Meemaw), I love you Grandpa (or PaPa), I love you Aunt Betty, I love you Uncle Bill, I love you Cousin Tim, Tina, Debi, Kent, Tommy, Glenn, Sandra, Linda, ….well, on one side alone we have 115….but, you get the picture!!  Family.

Remember, God Loves You!

Lin T. Rollins, Author