Beyond Downton

January 3, 2023 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield – 

Clear blue ocean water, the melodious sound of the waves gently rolling onto the shoreline, the sun’s rays dancing across the water and orange and pink sunsets filled my life last week. I took a girls’ trip to North Captiva Island with my daughters and daughter-in-law. We try to make this trip every other year if possible. Between weddings and babies, that is no small task. Our destination of choice seems to always be the beach.

I treasure this time together. We read our books while sunning on the porch. We eat seafood, French Fries, and ice cream. We take walks on the beach, talking about dreams, plans, children and memories. There is plenty of teasing Mom about her Mom ways— from being a bit technically challenged to a little OCD in the kitchen. At sunset, we all gather on the porch to bid farewell to the sun and see what glorious colors God gives to us to delight our soul. For a brief moment, it truly is heaven on earth.

One of our favorite past times this trip was to watch Downton Abbey. Two of the girls had not started the Downton craze, and they were eager to join the movement. My challenge was to not give anything away, which was quite difficult since I ooh and aw through most movies anyway.

I love Downton Abbey. I could watch it continually. I guess one could say it is “play” to me. I never want it to end. I love the historical time, the romantic culture, the glamour, and the upstairs-downstairs characters-all that makes up Downton.

If you are not familiar with the story, this English aristocratic family owns Downton Abbey. It is a castle estate with much land that the villagers support by farming. Part of the story centers around saving Downton. In fact, personal choices of marriage are based on saving this gorgeous estate and the way of life that goes with it. Saving Downton seems to be the glue that keeps the family together.

That gives me pause. The family lives for the estate. Two of the sisters don’t even like each other but they are bound by Downton, a structure. Magnificent as it is, it is just a building. They are all bound together for this cause, as if the people inside the house are second to the house itself.

To me, family is more that the house we grow up in. Family is more than a building or its land. It is the site of memories and relationships, but it’s not the family. Family is heart connection, where we are bound beyond the obvious physical link by something spiritual and intangible. Living people made in the image of the one true God make up a family. A house, even one as majestic as Downton, provides shelter for the family. It’s the connection between the inhabitants that really matter, that will really last for all eternity.

What’s funny is that I long for a house that brings my family together since we all live in different cities. I realized, though, that a house, even one as magnificent as Downton, is not what brings people together. It’s the relationships of love, caring and support that matter. It’s playing, laughing and even crying together that create bonds that bind us. I’m grateful to have a family that wants to come together even when there is no Downton to draw us.

About Diane Mayfield

Diane, a follower of Jesus, has a Bachelor of Journalism Degree, a Master’s Degree in Education with a specialty in counseling and is a Certified Coach. Married for 35 years and after raising three children, she returns to one of her first loves-writing.
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