I recently had the honour of putting a family history book together for a friend. Her uncle was turning 80 and this was to be a special gift for him. His sister is edging towards 80 herself and as an aging grandma, was eager to get her memories into a format that would preserve them for her grandchildren and generations yet to come. Their father was a soldier in both world wars. An amazing story in and of itself. He was wounded in WW1 so was not able to go back into the field in WW2. Instead, he was a trainer of soldiers who were about to be shipped out. The big blessing for his daughter was that his memory and his story would not be forgotten when she and her brother died. They could now enjoy the rest of their sunset years knowing that the Kyle legacy would be preserved.
From the family book and from amassing hundreds of pictures, I made family calendars for Barb and for her brother. That was a year ago. This year, I was asked to make 5 for the Kyle family. There was lots of secrecy as the calendars were requested and put together. Recently, they were all opened during a family gathering. The comment I received from my friend really hit home for me. She said, "you know Captain you have given the Kyle's the greatest gift and that is a sense of family as it was certainly fractured prior and maybe always will be but at least there is a "knowing" now that didn't exist before.....that is a gift even to me."
I realized in that moment that this is what the Crawford family book, and even more so, the Crawford Connections newsletters have done for us. They have given each and every one of us a sense of belonging. Like it or not. And certainly we each have twigs on the tree that we wish we could prune. Regardless of that, we are connected. Forever. By blood, by relationship, by being connected. Whether we were born a Crawford, married a Crawford, were adopted by a Crawford or were raised by a Crawford, we are all part of the same cloth. A cloth that is unique in design. Our ancestors were warm and welcoming. Others were welcomed into the clan for a number of reasons: close friendships, far fetched kin, neighbours, folk who just needed a place to be. By nature, then, the cloth for our clan of Crawfords is an open weave. Anyone "claimed" by a Crawford IS a Crawford. And they all get their branch on our tree.
Others are jealous of our connection. Not that they are necessarily envious of the relationships or even of the individuals, but of the deep and abiding sense of belonging. Our chests should puff out with pride in "knowing" that we belong.