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Thumper's words of wisdom remain relevant today

It’s an old-fashioned concept, but in our family circle, we are for each other. Out there, people and circumstances will come with a mighty force, and sometimes, one of us may be beaten down. But in the circle, we undergird and stand together come what may. There’s security in family.

Our family meetings help. This informal gathering exists in families all across time and space and serves the purpose of building unity. We have had countless family meetings as our children grew, but a few stand out as game-changers.

Our oldest child and only son was an eleven-year-old dynamo who knew how to speak his mind on the occasion of a momentous family meeting. Sitting around the dining table, we shared news of acing a math test and completing an art project as well as the bonus of giant pickles served at the canteen. At this particular meeting, the conversation took a serious note when I said, “Mom and I have an announcement.”

Suddenly, three little faces took on solemn expressions and more than a little apprehension filled the air. I took the plunge: “We are going to have a baby! You all will welcome a new brother or sister in the autumn!” Kathy and I endeavored to communicate our joy with wide smiles and expressions of our happiness.

The girls joined the excitement, tossing out plans for naming and making room in hearts. Kyle, however, sat stoically deep in thought. His silence quieted the room. He took a deep breath and blew it out his mouth before pronouncing, “Okay, you can have a new baby. As long as she’s a sister.”

Months later, Kyle smiled his very contented welcome upon the arrival of baby sister Mary, and the oldest and youngest of our children have formed a strong bond over the years. They are each other’s firmest supporters – they have each other’s back. They’re family.

Family is my heritage.

My siblings, Gerry, Eddie and Kelly, had my back throughout my childhood. I remember family meetings when my parents cautioned us to be kind to one another – looking out for each other, promoting each other positively out there.

One of my last conversations with my mom who passed in June centered around recalling a little bunny’s words, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” My mother, weakened by cancer, admonished me to remember Disney’s Thumper. As she began quoting the familiar adage one last time, I joined her and we spoke the words together. Thumper takes me back to lessons learned from my childhood.

These thoughts prompt me to speak comfort, to look for the positive in others, to support one another in all that life has in store. The challenges are real and some days are difficult. As members of the family of the living Lord, let’s present a united front against all the negatives out there as we support and uplift our fellow sojourners. As scripture admonishes: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,...”

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