Sweeping forested vistas, scary car rides up the mountain, ice skating, catching up conversations by a fire, meals together and children’s squeals of laughter…. these were the sights and sounds of our family’s Thanksgiving weekend.

Our children, Ben and Emily, Sarah and Damian, called us about a month ago and surprised us by telling us they wanted to celebrate our 70th birthdays together. They rented a huge cabin outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and invited us to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with both of their families. They were so excited and we were so overtaken by how thrilled these thoughtful two wonders of ours were. Both Pam and I couldn’t believe it…. pretty emotional stuff for both of us.

Our children know us…. they know our tendencies to keep things simple. We don’t have a bucket list…. we’ve done everything that we have dreamed for ourselves…. but this this is a whole different universe from a bucket list. This is what fulfills Pam and me beyond description. We were waited on, hand and foot…like royalty. This entire weekend embodied all things family….and all things poignant and beautiful.

Getting to watch our littlest granddaughter, cousin celebrity and family ringmaster, Maya interacting with Sarah’s girls, or snuggling in the early mornings with Tessa, our 7 year old princess, joking back and forth with our 11 year old fashionista, Blythe, and get tickled silly by my fourteen year old gem, Georgia, I counted a pleasure…lavish….and humbling.

In our time together, I thought about a phrase I have used before referring to how secluded our lives become by living in our own “little harbors”, and unconsciously thinking that’s the way everyone lives. There are countless families who have never experienced what Pam and I did this weekend. It’s okay to enjoy what we have, but a real insular misstep is to forget that this is not the way all the world works in God’s teeming ocean of souls.

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