Gathering With Family

I love the irony of a family gathering on Independence Day.  We’ve mostly all grown up and moved on in our lives to form new families and new connections far away from “home,” yet this year, as in years past, my siblings and I have gathered at my sister’s house in Waterford, Michigan, to celebrate our country’s beginnings and our family’s continuing close connection.  Do you, too, connect with friends and family for the fourth of July?

Henry dog in front of Ocie's car

I like this car.

I think the fireworks at this time of year are also appropriate.  Yes, the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air do still give proof that our love of country and family are still there. Thank you Francis Scott Key.  I also like the idea that people yelling and disagreeing does make a lot of noise sometimes, but eventually the noise dies away, leaving a strength of family and love. How cool is that?

During my visit to Detroit this year, Sis and I watched the movie, “Return to Me,” starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny.  The story is a romance (hey, sister week, remember?) between a heart transplant woman and a widower who’s wife was the heart donor.  That premise itself is a wonderful thought to play with, but what really appealed to me was the love of the ‘family’ that was in evidence throughout the story. There was a grandpa (Carroll O’Connor) and an uncle (Robert Loggia) and a bunch of guys who would debate the best singers ever over games of poker.  I also liked the layer of a younger family with bunches of kids and the mom and dad (Bonnie Hunt and Jim Belushi) who constantly yelled but were obviously in a rhythm of love and fireworks throughout their lives.

Henry 2014 laying down

No, I won’t go with you!

I think it is the wrapping of love in movies and stories that make them so worthwhile.  I really enjoy it when there are no real “bad guys,” but real people who just see things differently.  Remember the movie, “Sabrina?” Either version will do.  Or if you like something a little less romantic, how ’bout “Remember the Titans?” These feel-good movies and stories touch us as humans and help us see that life is exciting even without romantic kisses or gunshot-riddled sets. They help us believe an important truth–every human being counts in this world.

Sometimes stories have to have violence and force to carry their story.  I couldn’t imagine “The Godfather” without the shooting scenes.  But there is a line between moving the story along and gratuitous violence.  I watched a couple of episodes of “Game of Thrones,” and stopped because I couldn’t buy into the violence there.  My nephews disagreed vehemently, saying that the violence made this fantasy show more “realistic.” Interesting.

For me, when I watch a movie or television show, or read a good book, I want to be entertained.  Violence doesn’t do that for me.  But I’m open to debate.  How do you feel about violence as part of the story line?  How much is necessary, and when do you think it goes over the top?

Henry 2014 being carried to other car

Sit down protests are better than hunger strikes!

And also for me, I can’t get enough of humor and affection.  Where would we be without friends on-screen like Whoopi Goldberg or Robin Williams?  No, I can’t watch all this feel-good non-stop.  That would be like eating three birthday cakes in one weekend, with a chaser of soda-pop, and pancakes for breakfast. Oops!  Did you see me last week?

And I can’t leave my memories of the weekend without a mention of Henry.  Henry is my niece’s family dog.  I first saw him two years ago when “grandma and grandpa” brought him to the family party, and he politely let another little relative use his kennel.  This year, Henry came inside for a quick hello.  He is huge now (close to eighty pounds according to my adorable great-niece), but as quiet and friendly as I remembered him.  Henry must have gone outside with the younger people because after a quick hello pat I didn’t see him the rest of the day.

However, when it was time to go home, Henry did his best.  He ran up to the car and sat waiting for the back to open up.  Unfortunately, he had the wrong car.  The one he chose was “Ocie’s car,” Ocie being another sister who was traveling in  a different direction.  Ocie’s grandson is very fond of cars, and hers is always the best.  Add to this that Ocie has a new car and, well, who could blame Henry for wanting to go in it?

No matter how the Henry family coaxed and cajoled, Henry wouldn’t move.  If this were a taste test, Ocie’s car won the day.  So how do you move a big dog who doesn’t want to move?

Henry being loaded into the "right" car

In the end, love wins the day, and Henry goes in the “right” car.

My niece and her two kids picked up Henry, and walked around the corner to the “right car.” Personally? I think Henry has good taste in cars, but has ended up with a loving family. Best of both worlds.

Wishing you love in all of your conflicts this week.


Mankind Is Our Business

Picture of a family gathering

Families large or small are great!

One of the glories of having a large family is the wonderful facets of mankind I’ve been exposed to.  Each of my siblings and their spouses and children enrich my life with every visit and chat.

Last weekend proved the thought, as one sister smiled at me and asked when she might find herself on the pages of one of my stories, and another said she’d been reading my posts, but didn’t see anywhere that succinctly told what my blog and website were about. Hope you like the new tag line, Win.  Still another sister gave me books to borrow and sent along an article to take home to my husband.  It’s like the story of The Five Chinese Brothers, each blessed with a special gift, and when joined together the family of five was indestructible.

Picture of guys talking with son cuddling

Every day friends enrich our lives.

As writers, we often withdraw to our “work” and not bother to engage with others.  The computer screen and keyboard are seductive, always available, always in need of more words. People tend to be “out there” on Facebook or Linked-In, or behind the front doors of their homes down the street.

Each morning, before I have engaged with either people or pets, I sit here and write my blog post, hoping that when I hit the “publish” button, someone out in the internet world might read this and find something worthwhile in the words I put down.  But no matter whether or not I receive feedback, I keep producing words. I keep telling stories.

Picture of family around a baby.

People come in all shapes and sizes.

Now I try to remind myself that it’s also important to be involved with the source of my success–people. To listen to their achievements and challenges, to hear what they have to teach me, to see when they are silly, happy, sad, angry or just–hangin’ out.  The written word is a pale reflection of the richness around in the community, but to get better at the writing craft one has to engage with people.

As a kid and young adult I thought I could be a news reporter, but more often than not, I didn’t write anything because my life was “boring.” When I finally learned to stop looking for the the globally important and seize the day-to-day stories, life became vastly more impressive.  Heroes sprung from each encounter, and fools were found in the least expected places.

One of the first sayings to aspiring writers is often “Write what you know.”

Picture of little one making a face.

Who do you know that makes you smile?

Personally, I think that should be adjusted to say “Write who you know.”  Then look around at the people of your life.  They fill you with ideas and emotions enough to fill several books and keep your writing business busy.

No matter what you write, or how you earn your money in life, remember what Marley said to Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol:

“Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Who are your favorite people?  Who do you love or love to hate? Who makes you feel good or bad? Who would you turn to if your house burnt down or you wanted to celebrate a business promotion with?

Wishing you a day filled with great people.