Family circle

The state of our airports and highways during these holidays emphatically demonstrates how important family is to us, both in our country and around the world. Today, just after lunch, Betsy and I will join the fun. We will drive for two hours to Charlotte to join 12 other members of our family for an afternoon of gift-swapping, picture-taking and plenty of teasing, laughing and loving, then we all will head to a favorite Italian restaurant for a hearty meal together and a different kind of nourishment.

Betsy and I, our three daughters, their husbands and their two children each add up to 14. Mark, one son-in-law, won’t make it to the annual gathering this year, so our number will be 13 this time. He’s in a new job and can’t take the day off, and we will miss him sorely. Being in the joyful embrace of family is important to us,  as it clearly is to the thousands of others who cram airports and highways to spend time among their families. The chance to eat together, catch up on personal news, hug, laugh, just to share the same space and breathe he same air for a few hours, is precious.

In the midst of our joyful gatherings, we also think of those not so blessed — those who are alone or live too distant from their families. Holidays are especially painful for those who must be alone. And we also understand that the family circle can’t remain unbroken forever. Aging and eventual death will change the picture. But new generations will make their appearances, and refreshed, the  gatherings, with their loving hugs and laughter,  will continue.

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