Our blog posts theme for December surrounds "special Christmas memories/stories." Certainly, the holiday season has plenty of opportunities to describe as "thriving" or "strifing" in relationships. What memories or stories are uplifting and help family trees to be forever changed?
By Lavern Nissley
Encompass Executive Director
I was scrolling through my iPhone photos looking for Christmas memory ideas. Wow! So many flooded my heart and mind. But when I condensed them down to several common themes that were fulfilling and significant, it became very clear what we value as a family. My heart is warmed as I reflect on them!
Most of our family Christmas gatherings have common elements: good food, gift exchanges, reading (or acting out) the Christmas story, etc. But more than anything they have focused upon 1) being together physically and 2) nourishing our connection as 3 generations of family members where 3) faith is important to all of us.
Until last Christmas, 2022, this had been kept from happening for about 5 years. COVID in 2020 limited traveling for Josh and Emily who live near Denver. And a series of births for them in 2018 and 2020 also made traveling challenging.
So last Christmas we settled on a plan to meet in Hays, Kansas, about 5 hours from Denver and about 12 hours for those of us traveling from central Ohio. We acquired a large house via Airbnb and spent several days together. In all, that included 11 of us being able to spread out in 6 bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two large common spaces. The picture of all of us above was accomplished in about 3 takes as we quickly stepped outside into brisk weather and hoped no one had their eyes closed.
A memorable element for me was being able to spend time with little Seb (Sebastian), about 5 months old. He is the only male descendant of my grandfather, Ira, to carry on the Nissley name. So there is a lot riding on this little guy! He was very useful and appropriate in playing the baby in the narrated Christmas story along with his two older sisters who played the angels.
While I don't even recall what all gifts were exchanged, I very much remember and appreciate the warm sensation of being together with our children and grandchildren while nourishing our connection as a family.
We look forward to Josh, Emily, Charlie, Maddie, and Seb traveling to Springfield in about 3 weeks to experience another opportunity for making Christmas memories. Alert: Seb is now walking!😨
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.