I recently returned from a three-generation family vacation, age range 9-90. This is the third such trip my family has taken in the past four years, and each has been an amazing experience. In an era when siblings are scattered and intergenerational conflict seems to be the norm, I feel incredibly blessed to be part of a loving clan that wants to spend time together.
My parents deserve the credit for that, of course. We might not have had an abundance of material things during my growing-up years, but our home overflowed with love. It was also built on a solid foundation of mutual support and respect, encouragement and faith. Home was always the best place to be.
Studies show that our experience of family has a tremendous impact on the people we become—for better or worse. That concept is top of mind for me these days, thanks to the release of my latest book (Lethal Legacy), in which family dynamics play a huge role in the lives of my characters and the choices they make.
But creating a loving family and a warm, caring home environment is a challenge in today’s world. How do you establish strong links when everyone from toddlers to seniors seems to have packed schedules that take them in different directions? When people eat on the run, multitask and are glued to their electronic devices (even during family meals at restaurants)?
For me, prayer and prioritizing is the key to overcoming those obstacles.
Whenever I give thanks for the gift of my family, I think back to the Waltons TV show. Simple life, simple pleasures, shared meals with extended family, time spent together in face-to-face conversation. I’ve heard critics say that show didn’t represent reality. But it did. I lived it, albeit in a much later era.
Best of all, I still live it. That’s one of the beauties of a loving family. It’s a treasure you carry with you your whole life. It’s the place you hold in your heart to measure the world against. It’s the closest you can get to perfect love this side of heaven.
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including Lethal Legacy that releases in August 2012. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. For more information about her and her books, Irene invites you to visit her web site at www.irenehannon.com.