As Christmas approaches there are a lot of things to look forward to. Presents, food, time off work! But for me, like most years, I’m most excited about cards. Not just any cards, but an obscure game my family picked up called Hand and Foot.
Whenever four or more of my family members come together you can be sure that you’ll find us sitting around the kitchen table playing our game. Now the game is certainly fun, but what I most look forward to are the stories we tell while we play.
Hand and Foot is a slow game, and so it provides us with time to talk about current events, what’s happening in our lives, and anything else that interests us. And these conversations always lead to sharing memories from our youth, most of the time funny stories and inside jokes. Like the time Stephen forgot to get Richard anything for the family gift exchange, and instead passed on an elaborately wrapped IOU (Richard is still waiting).
Or the time Richard crashed the tractor into the side of the house, and my dad made him pay for the repairs to the siding and drywall (Dad is still waiting). Or when Michael shot himself with a bow and arrow, and has been begging us ever since to stop teasing him about it. (That’s just never going to happen). From my view, nothing draws us into our family, and love, more deeply than these stories.
The stories make us laugh, but they also remind us that we belong. They are memories that only we share, and so it tells each of us that we’re in a community that gets us. Love is often about the shared adventures that people go on together, and without a doubt family life provides the most interesting experiences, and also the stability to come through those experiences together.
The stories aren’t always pretty, but neither are we. They’re filled with mistakes and memories that sometimes hurt. But as family, we don’t just wash over these things, instead they invite
s us to love anyway. And that’s how I know it’s real love.
So often I see images of love where everything is perfect and easy, but my family reminds me that really love is often damaged, broken, and messy. And our imperfections aren’t something we have to hide from, instead we should seek out those people who love us knowing our faults. That’s what family does and that’s what love is.
The stories that go with this card game reminds me that I’m loved and that I belong. It gives me a chance to tease Michael about shooting himself with a bow and arrow. (Seriously, how does someone do that?!?!) But it also lets me know that I’m not perfect, and that’s ok. And that’s why I love cards and especially Hand and Foot—because I love my family.
Flickr/ Mike Brand