A family is held together by those things that their members share with each other. The “giving away” increases the closeness between individuals and tightens the family bonds. Mutual respect grows when a balance of give and take circulates within the tribe.
While giving is primary, receiving is no less important, requiring the same degree of thoughtful attention. When everyone feels enjoyment from both giving and receiving, and are able to express those feelings, then family life is lively and fulfilling, indeed.
Gifts take many forms, some come wrapped in shiny paper for immediate opening, while others develop as an experience, over time. In recent weeks I’ve been showered with gifts of welcome by my extended Scandinavian family. Being sheltered, fed and cared for while away from home is a truly wonderful present; a slice of heaven on earth.
Before leaving home on our nine-week adventure Elin and I asked her Scandinavian cousins if there were any stone related projects we could tackle together during our visit. Two group efforts were undertaken in Norway with myself as the activities director. In Skjåk, Lise, Knut, neighbor Kåre and I built a shrine, of sorts, to the memory of bestemor Anna Julie*. Her old, iron kettle was brought up from the basement and given a new life, out in the light of day, as a centerpiece for floral displays. At Gunnar and Ingrid’s seaside hytte on Veierland we spent a day elevating large chunks of broken ledge onto two short walls, creating a deep niche in the bedrock for a yet-to-be-determined use; maybe a planter or fireplace.
I’m thankful to be able to offer my expertise toward something that enhances the home life of our overseas family. And as much as they expressed their delight with the projects, it couldn’t be greater than the pleasure I had sharing.
Thanks go out by the thousand, (tusen takk!), to everyone who took us in and held us close during our travels – Halvard & Mari, Lise & Knut, Randi & Per, Anne, Oddlaug & Erling, Kirsten & Lasse, Family Arntzen, Gunnar & Ingrid, Ola & family, Birgit & Lars, Inge & Per, Britta, Henrik & Stine, Nikoline, Jonas, Fie, Thomas & Susanne, Casper, Nicolai, Louise & Jesper, Rasmus, Anna, Katja & Sven.
*The project was named Anna Julies Arne. The word arne refers to the central stone on the floor of traditional Norwegian homes upon which the fire was lit for the family’s heating and cooking needs.