When generations come together, beautiful connections are made.
In the small Kansas town we moved from last year, we left a web of connections in our wake. During our 16 years in that community, we started our own little family and also “grew” an extended family. Although we still didn’t have relatives within 200 miles, we felt like we were severing family ties when we pulled out of town with Uhaul trailers dangling behind us.
These bonds didn’t occur overnight. We wove them over time through snatches of conversation on soccer sidelines, volunteering at school events, working in the community, visiting with neighbors, and serving alongside others at church. Since our children didn’t have grandparents nearby, we crafted some of our own through repeat connections with people in our community.
A dear lady in our church always greeted us with a warm smile and thoughtful questions about our family’s activities. Typically I’d have one child on my hip and another boy tugging on my arm, but slowing down to visit with this generous lady gave me an internal boost. We exchanged notes in the mail occasionally and she joined us for Thanksgiving dinner one year — a special treat for all of us without our “other” family around.
Another year we incorporated Acts of Kindness into our advent activities and serenaded a neighbor lady down the street. She reciprocated with holiday goodies and a beaming smile.
She added a watchful gaze and a friendly wave as my boys trudged by her house to school day after day, year after busy year. My youngest son developed a special connection with her, becoming her handy helper for various little tasks she needed from time to time. She got to share her stories with an enthusiastic listener who wore curiosity on his sleeve like a badge of honor.
These interactions unfolded naturally over time; they weren’t forced or felt like an obligation. Typically they occurred through seasonal shifts or holiday overflow of family activities. Somehow these brief interludes closed a gap for us. They weren’t quite a substitution for our “Family Tree” people, but offered a soft tether of connection in our chosen community.
Often I was the one behind the camera, orchestrating the logistics, yet I got to observe the faces of the young and old. I witnessed an echo of mutual admiration pass between them. Simple gestures –young hands carrying small treasures for elderly neighbors or weathered hands offering treats to eager boys — bridged the generational gap, pulling each closer. Something quietly slipped into place during these encounters; a sense of belonging and purpose emerged that wasn’t present before.
Now we’re on the lookout for potential opportunities in our new neighborhood, trying to be open to possibilities around us. Meanwhile we’re enjoying increased contact with our own extended family once again, knitting ourselves into deeper family grooves.
We dabbled a bit recently by participating in a craft activity with a small group of seniors. Hands of different generations joined together in common purpose reflects such a beautiful collaboration, closing the gap of all the years in between.
“Live in harmony with one another…” Romans 12:16
A brief visit here or a quick craft there…you never know where you’ll discover a new “family member” to add to your nest.