Multigenerational Connectedness

29 12 2010

We’re all one, right? Brothers and sisters, connected souls, timeless, pure energy, love, and light. So how many of us actually spend time with people outside our age group…give or take 20 years or so? And why don’t we? Is it because it’s uncomfortable? Inconvenient? We feel we have nothing in common with people so outside our age range? How can we truly feel the connectedness with all others if we shun or exclude people much younger or much older than ourselves?

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with four generations…my 16-month-old grandson, both my daughters (and one son-in-law), my sister and her husband, and my mother and her husband. The age span from youngest to oldest was 83 years. What did I observe and take away from my interactions with each generation in addition to lots of love and gratitude for being together?

  • My 16-month-old grandson – Instant smiles when he sees me, spontaneity, lots of hugs and kisses, fun, big faces that indicate delight, play, playfulness, and sheer joy
  • My two daughters – Pride in making their way in the world so well, joy in watching one be a mother, seriousness about life and drive, self-confidence, kindness, an adult-to-adult relationship, hugs, and smiles
  • My sister – Giggles, ease, familiarity, shared family history, remembering, delight, hugs, consideration, laughing at ourselves, and fun
  • My mother – Comfort, hugs, tears, understanding, patience, honoring, helping, taking time, being cared for, being girlish and playful with friends, and shared family history

Credit: Edanley on Flickr

In being with family from each generation, I got to connect with that child, young woman, middle-aged woman, and aging woman inside me and feel the delights and challenges of each age. I could be silly with my grandson and be totally spontaneous in the moment. I could talk with my daughters about their careers and remember when I was that age and so driven and I could recall how it felt to be a young mother. I could feel a real connection with my sister, who is also experiencing the fears and humor of aging and the delights and wisdom from a life lived so far. And I could be understanding toward and appreciative of my mother, who is slowing down, and delight in watching her giggle and chat with her friends around the table in the dining room of her retirement community.

There is much to be gained by stepping outside our comfort zones and being with people of all ages. I’m grateful for all of these relationships; they all help me to honor the many ages within me and within others. Spending time with others of varying ages reminds us that we are all timeless and are connected through our joy, love, kindness, consideration, acceptance, understanding, and being.

Want to Be Uplifted? Check This Out!

16 12 2008

Straight No Chaser a cappella group has over 9 million YouTube hits for their fun rendition of “Twelve Days of Christmas”. These ten guys were a big hit at Indiana University in the late 1990s and after graduation, went their separate ways, pursuing musical and non-musical careers. They were “discovered” on YouTube by Atlantic Records and signed a recording deal. They have a fabulous new “Holiday Spirits” CD out…check it out!

Here they are singing “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Enjoy!

Unwrapped Gifts Mean the Most

12 12 2008

Are you giddy thinking about the gifts you’ll get for Christmas? When was the last time you thought about the gifts you have already received and continue to receive every day?

I made a CD of me playing Christmas carols on the piano (I recorded on a keyboard) for each person in my Artist’s Way group. I have played the piano since I was five years old (many, many years ago). Although the notes don’t stream from my fingers without practice (and 17 years of lessons), I sometimes forget what a gift it is to be able to play the piano. Even I enjoy listening to my own CD.

I remember dating a man years ago who had not grown up in a household where lessons of any kind were a possibility, where attending cultural events was unheard of. He was so astounded as I showed him my scrapbook of all the things I had done growing up. My family was not rich, but my mother was intent on all four of her children having music lessons, singing in choirs, and having rich life experiences.

As I think of all the gifts I have, I think about those who have little. I wonder how many children of rape in the Congo ever even get any education. I wonder how many children in Darfur have ever heard a poem or read a book. I wonder how many children living in Haiti ever heard someone play the piano. I wonder how many innocent suspected terrorist detainees live a day without being tortured. I wonder how many Rwandan refugees have ever slept in a bed or felt safe. I wonder how many women who are victims of sexual violence as a tool of war believe they will ever feel a day of joy in their lives. I wonder how many children who are victims of sexual and/or physical and emotional abuse live in fear every day. I wonder if people held in slavery cry themselves to sleep at nights and feel dead inside.

The wrapped gifts are nice, but pale in comparison to the real gifts of life. Those of us who live free, in relative comfort, and in safety often forget what gifts freedom, comfort, and safety are. I don’t have to fear being attacked and raped when I venture out of my home to get food as women in the Congo do. If I decide to have sex with a man before marrying him, I don’t have to fear that my father might kill me to save the family honor. I have running water and indoor toilets. I have transportation, warmth, and a home to live in.

I am blessed with a good education and an ability to think and research and read and understand things. Even though I am often alone, I’m not really alone. There are people who care about me. I have good health. I have a faith in a power greater than myself.

As you go through this season of gift giving, consider the gifts you already have…the ones that are the most meaningful. Share those gifts with others and accept the personal gifts of love, care, kindness, and even a smile that others give to you. Tis the season.