I am a very blessed person in that I have a large family. Not just my immediate family, which in of itself is quite big (I'm one of six) but my extended family as well. My mom is one of nine and my dad is one of sixteen. So, lots of people. Which is awesome, because I totally feel at home in a crowd, and because there are so many of us, I am used to small fry running around. As I mentioned before, I am especially close to my two cousins, who definitely qualify as small fry, being two and five. I think as a woman in her late twenties, I feel the motherly urge more strongly than I did as a younger woman, but what I love about the love I share with my cousins and nephew and niece is that it's less of a motherly bond, though there is some semblance of that, especially with the boys, and more of a big sister best friend bond. My cousin James, while a stinkpot and a brat at times, prays for me at every meal, even when I'm sitting at the table with him. "God bless Ashley!" he says, and my heart just soars. I asked him the other day who he wanted to sit by him in the car on the way to the farm, me or our other cousin who was traveling with us, and he said very solemnly, "I want to sit by you, because we're best friends, and best friends sit by each other." My other cousin Jacob, his face lights up when he sees me, and he gets a huge grin and comes running up to me. My niece always smiles a huge smile when she sees me and my nephew says my name as loud as he can. "ASH!"
This all may sound like bragging or something akin to it, but it's not. It is a realization that in order to keep this precious love, which is unlike any other love in the whole world, I have to keep in mind another little Child, one who loved just as much as these children do, and who grew up to keep that love intact enough to die a horrible death for us. This love, this precious, holy love, is the love we should strive to keep in our hearts at all times. Even when it is tested by the cruelest of trials and sorrows, we must remember the love of the Christ Child, the unconditional trust that makes a five year old pray for someone every day, three times a day, and makes joy run through a child so vibrantly it is impossible to hide it. I wish to love as He did, as they do, and I look to them and to Him, especially during this time of the year, to show me exactly how.