I never realized how much I take having a family for granted until this past weekend. My parents usually take their annual trip to Arizona around this time of year, so we often celebrate the Easter holiday with my husband’s family. In years past, they have held these amazing Easter celebrations with a huge Easter egg hunt and lots of wonderful chaos only a huge family could create. Many might find it overwhelming, but I love having the family together and watching all of the younger cousins run around and all of us just truly enjoying each other’s company. It is a reminder of the many blessings we share. Seeing the pure joy on our children’s faces and hearing their squeals of excitement is like food for the soul. For someone who was once an orphan, having a family—especially a huge one—is truly a blessing beyond measure.
Due to the amount of work that goes into planning such a huge family affair, my husband’s family decided not to hold the annual Easter celebration this year. Each family planned to celebrate the holiday on their own. Knowing that my parents were going to be out of town, I asked my brother and his girlfriend if they would like to join us for Easter brunch. Unfortunately, they had already made other plans for the holiday.
Faced with the realization that my family would be on our own for Easter this year, I started to become really depressed. For me, holidays are about spending time with family and loved ones. I didn’t want the holiday to become “just another day” for my sons. I have countless memories of wonderful holidays and birthdays spent with loved ones, and I could do no less than attempt to create special holiday memories for my sons, as well. Of course, my husband, sons and I would have each other, but I knew in my heart that it just wouldn’t be the same if we were to spend the holiday alone.
My husband and I talked about going to my family’s cabin, but quickly discovered that the forecast called for rain all weekend. I knew it would be a really long drive, and a stretch for us financially, but I brought up the possibility of our visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Chicago for the weekend. My husband loved the idea, so I gave my sister a call. They are often busy and travel a lot, so I was thrilled when my sister told me they were going to be in town for the weekend and excited for us to spend the holiday with them. I was absolutely over the moon. I had not celebrated an Easter with my sister in years, so it made this trip all the more special.
It was very much a whirlwind trip, but everything about it was wonderful. This holiday was definitely one for the books, and we created some amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
As I reflect on the whole experience, I think about the hundreds of thousands of children and teens who celebrate countless birthdays and holidays without their forever families. I think of those who age out of foster care and orphanages who don’t have a place to call home. It is a sobering reminder of how blessed I am to have such an amazing family and so much love in my life. While people all over the country are lamenting about not having won the most recent Mega Millions lottery, I am counting my blessings. As cheesy as it may sound, I have already won the most important jackpot in my life. My family is worth more to me than all the money in the world, and I am so incredibly blessed.