These Happy Golden Days

12:11 PM

It’s been quite a tumultuous summer for my family. We’d had great highs and great lows, difficulties and beautiful life changes. There’s been babies (being born and soon-to-be-born), and deaths, traveling and moving, happiness and sadness, trial and triumph. All these things mixed together to be quite the burdens to bear and changes to navigate.

Don’t get me wrong --- this is LIFE. This is what happens in the world we live in. Things change, people change, people arrive and people leave. Life continues like a river – ever flowing, ever bending, ever changing… Holding too tightly to our same-kind-of-lives can make transitions even more difficult.
It’s like loving babies (which I do). We love them… and then they grow to be mobile toddlers, and inquisitive kindergarteners, and then all of the sudden, they’re nearly ten years old with lightning-quick wits and one wonders --- how did this happen? (as I wonder about my nieces and nephews: they grow so fast!). The changes are hard, because we love the current season… and then, we are surprised by a new season – a new life change – a new challenge – a new trial to endure.

I have become very contemplative over the last week. My family gathered at the homestead (as we call my parents’ house up on the mountain) for a family picnic. There was delicious food and lots of laughter, little children running here and there, a newish baby nephew being passed around with delight, candles to be blown out for a belated birthday celebration for my mom. It was all loud and lively and altogether lovely. It may have been the first time we had gathered in many months --- perhaps since Christmastime. And I cherished the moments.

Dear “Uncle Brandon” and I spent our time chasing little rays of sunshine who run very fast and love to climb things and teeter at the top of toddler slides and play in mud puddles and kick a kickball until they fall over. Brandon observed, “most of interacting with children is just making sure they don’t injure themselves.” And how true it is (see the photo above where Brandon stands between a small one and the crest of a hill).

And then I (slightly worn out) sat on an outside bench and cheerleaded the most hilarious game of baseball between Uncle Brandon--- as all-time pitcher--- and a parade of young nieces and nephew who cheerfully dubbed themselves “the Auntie Nomis” (yes, after me! I did not realize I was quite so popular). I’m sure there were multitudes of rules being broken and I was amazed at how the pitcher moved forward and backward according to the ages of the current batters. And how little ones had to be reminded to run (though sometimes they just got to first base and sat down)… and in the end, the ‘Auntie Nomis’ won by a ridiculous margin – something like 38 to 1! How Uncle Brandon got 1 point without ever batting is beyond me... And then there was hot chocolate to chase away the newly autumnish chill in the air. And watching Penn State football on the TV together, because now that PSU is back in bowl eligibility, it is so much more interesting! :)

Golden days can happen anytime, but I particularly enjoyed this autumn family picnic. There’s something about grabbing onto little smiles, the pleasures, the moments of joy, and remembering them when life is tough.

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