Friday, November 30, 2012

"You that I love with love so dear..."

Last year was my first Thanksgiving where I didn't spend it with my whole family and just stayed at home with Vince drinking rum cider and cooking all day. This year we spent it with Vince's family, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. Let me tell you, there were a few moments of 'Holy crap, these people are my family! I have more family!'

It was surreal at times to realize that there were so many more great people being added to my life. Those people that I was surrounded by are the people that my kids are going to know as cousins and (great) aunts and uncles and grandma and grandpa! These people who are strangers to me, but at the same time completely welcoming and loving as if we've known each other for years, will be part of my life for the rest of it. It's such a good feeling to realize that family is family, even if you aren't related by blood!

As great as my new family members are, I did kind of miss the Thanksgivings I'm used to as a kid. I almost shared one of my traditions with my new family but chickened out because it's a tradition that makes me cry, so I'll share it here instead. 

Every time my 'regular' family gathers around and my grandma is there, she shares a poem called The Family Meeting by Charles Sprague. We always joke about how she can't make it through the first few lines without crying, and that's one of the traits that's been passed on to me. Here's the poem:

We are all here,
Father, mother,
Sister, brother,
All who hold each other dear.
Each chair is filled, we are all at home!
Tonight let no cold stranger come;
It is not often thus around
Our old familiar hearth we're found.

Bless, then, the meeting and the spot,
For once be every care forgot;
Let gentle peace assert her power,
And kind affection rule the hour.
We're all--all here.

We're not all here!
Some are away,--the dead ones dear,
Who thronged with us this ancient hearth,
And gave the hour to guileless myrth.
Fate, with a stern, relentless hand,
Looked in and thinned our little band;

Some like a night flash passed away,
And some sank lingering day by day;
The quiet graveyard--some lie there,
And cruel ocean has his share.
We're not all here!

We are all here.
Even they--the dead--though dead, so dear,
Fond memory, to her duty true,
Brings back their faded forms to view.
How lifelike, through the mist of years,
Each well-remembered face appears!
We see them, as in times long past;
From each to each kind looks are cast;
We hear their words, their smiles behold,
They're 'round us as they were of old.
We are all here!

We are all here:
Father, mother,
Sister, brother,
You that I love with love so dear.
This may not long of us be said;
Soon must we join the gathered dead,
And by the hearth we now sit 'round
Some other circle will be found.
Oh, then, that wisdom may we know
Which yields a life of peace below;
So, in the world to follow this,
May each repeat, in words of bliss,
We're all--all here.

The last stanza is the one that gets me every time and is my favorite part of the poem. You that I love with love so dear. This may not long of us be said; soon must we join the gathered dead, and by the hearth we now sit 'round, some other circle will be found. Doesn't that just make you want to cry?! I don't necessarily believe in heaven, but it is a nice thought that someday I will sit in a circle with all the ones I love.

This poem is a good reminder that no matter how far away I am from those I love, we can still be close.

For those of you that are married, have you ever felt like this?


  1. My very dear Steff, you can guess that I am writing with tears running down my cheeks. I miss being with our family. It's hard to be away from you all for so long. My comfort is knowing that our love connects us no matter how many miles separate us. Reading your blog is like having a little visit with you. I love that you are carrying on the tradition of The Family Meeting. I love that you are my granddaughter. Gram

    1. I can't wait for you guys to be closer again! Less than a year to go! I love you.

  2. Oh man, I did tear up a teensy bit at the poem but then I read your grandma's comment and sobbed ha ha. So beautiful!
    I would love to start something similar with our little one. It's such an awesome idea for a beautiful tradition!!
    Ryan just met the rest of my family this Thanksgiving too. I have met almost everyone in his family with only a few exceptions and it's definitely an awesome feeling to feel like someone is welcoming you, for better or for worse, even without ever having met you before. =]

    1. My grandma has the tendency to make people cry! haha

  3. I totally know what you mean. It's really lovely and wonderful to experience new family, but there's really no substitution for the comfort of well worn tradition. I think one of the most exciting things about being married is getting to start your own traditions. That poem is lovely, thank you for sharing!

  4. A great poem indeed, Steffani! Thank you for sharing it, along with your thoughts around "family". Yes, tradition is so important. I remember when our daughter went away to university and then came home for Christmas. For some reason, I had thought it great idea to set the Christmas tree up in the basement - instead of in the living room where it had always been each year. When Alana walked in and found the tree in a different spot, she got quite upset, insisting we bring the tree back upstairs where it belonged. She exclaimed: "It's tradition! That's why they call it a tradition!". At the time I thought her words were kind of humourous. Now I recognize the wisdom in what she said. Best regards, "Farmer Doug" @ Ladybug's Mew in Yellow Point, B.C. Canada

    1. I'm glad you liked it! I like the story of your daughter, it's something I do when my parents or husband try to change things up! I'm so gung-ho on traditions.

  5. Really nice poem.. I don't live near my family, so it made me sad a little bit.. But, Christmas is coming, at least I will spend holidays with them - I hope.