Scripture Reading: Luke 1:39-45 (Mary visits her relative Elizabeth.)

I remember the year we gave my grandmother a toilet seat for Christmas.

Most of my family is here in the Upstate, except for one aunt, uncle, and cousin who lived near Olympia, WA. Every other Christmas, they would make the journey across the country to spend about two weeks with their SC family. My grandmother lived alone in a home that was large enough for her family of seven, and when the Washington Fosters came, we filled every room! I usually spent a good part of that time sleeping over at my grandmother’s so that I could spend time with my cousin. We didn’t talk or write much between visits, but we always seemed to pick up where we left off two years before, without missing a beat.

I remember huge family card games, working puzzles together, playing hide-and-seek with the cousins, collecting pecans in the back yard and cracking them on the porch, playing Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, and all sorts of other games. We would snack on fresh smoked salmon that my uncle had caught and sample geoduck (an enormous Pacific clam) that he had collected while diving. There were huge family meals with tables added to the end of tables, extending though doorways from one room to the next. Family members from all around would take this opportunity to get together.

One year, a particularly nasty stomach bug swept through a good part of the extended family right after the Washington Fosters arrived. Everyone blamed my mom’s lasagna that we all enjoyed the night they flew in. Mom was relieved to hear that one of my local cousins had been a little sick beforehand, and even more relieved when an in-law who hadn’t eaten the lasagna also got sick! Grandma Foster’s house became the infirmary for the sick family members. Even in quarantine, we got to spend time together with family from far away! By Christmas we were all mostly better, and we wrapped a toilet seat and gave it to my grandmother, because hers had gotten broken amid all the sickness.

What gifts those visits from the Washington Fosters were for all of us!

Prayer: Gracious God, we give you thanks for the gift of families whom we have loved and who have loved us, who have challenged us and comforted us, and who have made us who we are. Enlarge our vision of family so that we may see as kin each one you bring into the household of God, and, indeed, each person you bring into our lives.

Craig Foster

About the Contributor

Craig Foster is our Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship.