One thing I love about where I live is that if you walk out our screenroom door and up a little rise in the land and then through a path in the woods you emerge in the backyard of my beloved sister and her family. We have spent many days on each other's porches watching the kids swim or play in a sandbox. We can run over and borrow whatever we need, even if the other is not at home. We hug and correct each other's children, eat each other's food and enjoy ourselves so much we almost feel guilty.
Mr. Potts and I have been known to be waiting in their house for them to get home so we can play games, laugh, brew coffee, sit and talk or...did I mention laugh? They have even spent the night at our house (remember we just live next door) on a number of occasions because we sat up too late and everyone was too tired to lug the kids out to the van. Sometimes after both of our families arrive home late after our Friday night Bible study's with our church group, the phone rings and we hear, "Wanna come over? Bring the salsa!"
Our husbands love each other like brothers. When we bought a new microscope years ago, they spent days searching for unusual things to look at and became especially fascinated with the eyes of insects. Even further back, when they tried a new kind of pepper we grew in the garden (habenero) and almost quit breathing after each popping one in their mouths, they spent the rest of the evening cutting warning and poison labels off of anything they could find and gluing them on the outside of a jar, which contained more peppers. They love to sit around and brainstorm problems or discuss inventions.
Our children run joyously to greet each other, even though they see each other nearly every day. When we get back from out-of-town, even if it's just a few days, they beg and plead to run over and say hello. Mine say, "Remember when they first moved here almost four years ago, you said we'd probably get sick of each other? Well, we still haven't!"
We even share each other with other friends. Instead of getting jealous, we rejoice with each other. Her friends, even though I may not spend much or any time with them, get an automatic place in my heart. When I moved away, she took over being there for my best friend and then they became close. I never felt intimidated. It was like having more of me to spread around.
Of course, things are not always perfect. We have offended each other from time to time. The children have quarreled. We have all been defensive parents. But like a big, cozy blanket on a cold, wintry day, love covers over all of those things.
In this season of being thankful and gift giving, I wanted to acknowledge that my sister and her family are one of God's greatest gifts to me. Her love is always there and I couldn't imagine life without it.