Did you catch that presidential inauguration last week? The one that drew 1.5 million people to Washington, D.C., for the swearing in of our new president and thousands to a spate of celebratory balls? The one that garnered all-day television coverage and netted zero arrests?
While watching the grand occasion unfold from the comfort of my own family room, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it was to a family gathering, albeit on an incomprehensibly huge scale.
Weddings, baptisms, holidays, birthdays, family reunions and funerals have much in common with presidential inaugurations. They are generally festive occasions. Even funerals can be respectful celebrations of life rather than somber, mournful events. All family gatherings present opportunities to honor our family elders and to learn from them.
Family gatherings are often times of transition. Funerals often mark the passing of family leadership from one generation to the next. Baptisms and weddings create new branches on the family tree. All gatherings give families a chance to evaluate the status quo and catch a glimpse of its future.
Recognize each family gathering for its uniqueness and take from it as much wisdom and family lore as you can absorb. These are truly special occasions and you needn’t wait four years for the next one.
Photo: Elsie Lehmer, Rick Andersen and Norman and Norma Thomas at Andersen family Christmas gathering in 1959. (Walter B. Lehmer collection).