As the holidays get closer, family takes the forefront of everyone’s mind. The lucky ones among us are counting the days to see every family member they know of while some others can be very reluctant as the holidays forces them to be together with their families. I grew up in a country that unfortunately experienced one of the worst atrocities known to mankind. Those tragedies distorted many families in one way or another and took away many of the benefits that strong families can have on society. To people who grew up in those parts of the world having an extended family is a luxury and it is counted as a big blessing. Only a few of the families from my home country are considered lucky to have at least one of their grandparents still alive today. I lost a great part of my family prematurely, and I can see the impact it has had on my life since then, I have been able to make the most of the one I still have now in many ways but the extension I lost I miss dearly and especially during the holidays. I always tell people I meet who are still able to have their uncles, grandparents, even all the way to great grandparents that they should take advantage of all the wisdom that are kept in the lives and experiences of their elders. Take time to enjoy, love and appreciate the family they are still blessed to have.
Family is the base of every life, it is where you learn to love and where you learn to be loved, it is where you find a sense of belonging with little to no effort on your part. It is where you can experience pains that can cut deeper and last an entire lifetimes and also where you learn to forgive and be forgiven. Family is the pathway that introduces us to the world as we come to know it and it can make or break us in many ways. With everything that comes with family though, disagreements do arise, children learn that the ways they were thought are not the only ways to live; parents at times may discover that the hopes and dreams that they had envisioned for their families are no longer the focus of their children. Uncles, aunts, friends and all other relations beyond may wrong us in ways we didn’t expect and unfortunately the need for distance may arise at some point in our lives. The one thing to never forget though is that family is FOREVER with all its good bad and ugliness.
To some of us and in some ways family is the love in our hearts, it is the memories of the ones we love that we carry within us, it is the traditions we keep alive and their legacy we hold dear in our hearts. This season is an opportunity to bring those values we inherited to life, to transmit what we need carried on to the next generation. In other ways family is our home that we work so hard to create and it is those we welcome in our home to share our sacred lives, the ones we choose to call our own and share in their life journeys. Family can also be our neighbors and neighborhood that are so familiar and accept us for who we became and provide to us a sense of belonging, those we have shared circumstances and community throughout our lives. Family is our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers and every combination near and far. It is those we laugh with and those we fight often, the ones that support us and push us to work harder and those whose support we miss. And to most of us family is everything, all the above and the unmentioned.
Many people agree that the holidays though remaining the most wonderful time of the year, they are also known to be the most stressful time of the year. A great deal of people find themselves lonelier than they have been the rest of the year. Many people stretch their finances buying anything and everything they have been waiting for all year long. The holiday is the time where we reflect on the year to pass either with pride or regret. It is also when we meet most of our family members we have not seen all year long and it’s when we strive to put our best foot forward in the hope to carry the energy through the upcoming New Year. We eat, we laugh, we love and we gift and for the most part we spend the longest time with our beloved and “crazy” families. Whenever some part of the holiday craze drives you so crazy or you find yourself at the point of giving up on family, just remember that making the most of our family is our lifelong opportunity. Let’s tackle this holiday season with an intention to mindfully make the most of it.