On Pilgrimage of the Heart (The Trip to Grandma’s)

I know many of you were not blessed with strong families or parents growing up.  Many of my friends and people I hold close to me have grown up without a family at all, severely broken families, parents that abandoned them, and current families who are too interested in their own selfish goals and lives to focus on what matters most.  It pains me to see this, but I’m encouraged by watching the majority of my friends break the cycle as they start families of their own, complete with new traditions, pledges of love and protection, and the goal to encapsulate all that is a family within their own they are creating.  In my eyes, doing something so noble without a past example is probably the most powerful legacy one can leave.

I can’t say that I fall into the group of broken families.  I was blessed, and am blessed, with a great and large family.

At any rate, The Holidays often bring or force upon (depending on your perspective) situations where we reconnect with family. This year, I had the opportunity to take my entire family to Ohio to spend Christmas with my Mother and Father, my Grandparents, my Aunts and Uncles, and my cousins.  For those of you who have children, you know that traveling long distances with any number of children, especially with three children sucks.  Halfway through the ride you start to question your sanity for taking trip.

But then you arrive.

In the span of three days, I enjoyed conversation and meals with my parents, a ceremonial viewing of It’s Wonderful Life with my Dad, special time sharing memories of my childhood Christmas’s with my children, laughter with my wife, a visit to the Gravesite of my Great Grandmother and Grandfather – and a Christmas dinner with 4 generations in the same room.

As I looked around the room at family members from 4 generations, and then back at the patriarch and matriarch of the family – my Grandparents (my children’s Great Grandparents – how cool is that?) I wondered if my generation, or the generation of my parents would be able to keep the glue that brings my family together strong even after my Grandparents move to their Celestial home.

Certainly, each generation that passes seems to grow more connected, but less filled with deep relationships.  Sure, I’m friends with all my cousins on Facebook – but ultimately, I know little about them beyond childhood memories and quick catchups during the Holidays.  I often share more personal thoughts with my coworkers.

I’m convinced that shouldn’t be.  I’m convinced that Family will become more and more important than ever as the years go before us and life on this Earth eventually gets darker and less intimate.  I have a certain reverance above and beyond respect for my Grandparents.  They’ve managed to keep my family together through decades of changes, growth, and mileage.

People come not out of obligation, but because it’s become a pilgrimage of the heart.  The more and more I think about it, the more I realize I intend to find out what creates that pilgrimage, so that my children – and their children still will take that trip to Grandmas.

I think I’ll just call Grandma and ask her the secret.  After all, she likes when I call.

– Grant

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