I hear my Nana’s voice in my head most days, telling me I’m doing things right (or sometimes wrong). She and my grandfather have been married for 57 years (I was born on their anniversary.  I like to joke that I was the best anniversary present they’ve ever gotten), and if there is one thing on this planet that I am grateful for, it is their presence.  image

 

I grew up in a very large extended family.  While I have one sibling, my mother is one of five and as the oldest, she had children long before everyone else. My brother and I had my grandparents to ourselves for most of our childhood and they can claim credit for much of our upbringing.

 

I spent a lot of my childhood Nana’s kitchen, stirring lovely smelling things and absorbing knowledge almost as fast as I inhaled her cookies. I could make marinara from scratch by age eight. Nana told me more than once that she wanted me to learn these things NOT so that I could cook for a husband, but for myself. She wanted me to learn to be independent and strong on my own—to be my own advocate. She’s well read, opinionated, and won’t hesitate to tell you her views on everything from great literature and World War II to the latest ridiculous current events.

 

We share a love of Scrabble. It’s our thing together–my grandfather isn’t big on it. My Nana once joked, “If only he’d play Scrabble with me, this would be a perfect marriage.” This past weekend, I was extremely grateful that I was able to spend three days with them. givingthankstograndparents Among other things, Nana and I had a Scrabble marathon.  Between turns, we chatted about anything and everything– from what’s going on in my life, to my childhood and hers.  The weekend ended with a big family cookout, and I turned to my cousin at one point and remarked, “It’s a pretty good life, isn’t it?”  She’s sixteen, so of course, she looked at me like I was crazy, but if working for WeGush has impacted me in any way, it’s that I am so incredibly mindful of all that I have to be so grateful for– and WHO.

 

My grandparents are my touchstone. Every visit is nostalgic. Over the thirty years of my life, there have been countless games of gin, mancala, memory, diving into the pool screaming, “watch me dive!”, trips to the library, grilled cheese sandwiches, celebrations… the times I wanted to take a trip down the laundry chute…it’s all there. There are so many things that seemed so inconsequential at the time, but now seem to be important pieces of our family history and my own.  For this– both the past and the present–I am so incredibly grateful.

 

I firmly believe that family is one of the most important things that we have.  Some of us, like me, are lucky enough to be born into incredible families, givingthankstofamilyand some of us make our own.  I think, though, that most of us have some combination of both– those that we are born with and into, and those that we choose to make a large part of our lives.  How amazing is that?