Day #8 Family
I know this should be a topic that is fairly easy to write positive things about, but I am struggling with a lot of it. It could be my perception of family or my overall outlook on life. I am not sure, but I will see what comes out of my fingers.
For me, I feel like I have two types of family. One is the family that I did not really get to choose, my birth family, and I really wish I had nothing to do with them and the second is the family that I am creating and molding into something that I hope is lasting. I have not met many people who can have the view I have of my birth family as they do theirs. Most of the time they still have contact, they check-in every once in a while and would probably go to their funeral when they die even if they do not get along. I am none of those things. Even my wife does not fully understand and she has seen some of what I am talking about firsthand. Could I ever get something positive from my birth family, who I detest, over the holidays? Surprisingly, yes.
I could go the easy route and say that they taught me positive things during the holidays because they helped me learn things that I know I don’t want my kids to experience. The showed me the way people should never be treated and in the end they were the perfect example of how not to parent. That would be the easy way but I never did like the easy way. I always seem to make things hard on myself. I think my birth family did have a positive aspect during the holidays, although I believe it may have been unintentional.
I learned from them how rewarding service to others can be. I wrote that we used to go and volunteer on Christmas handing out coffee and donuts to elderly people. I really did enjoy seeing those people and sitting down and listening to them, even if it was only for a moment or two. They were always glad to see me and usually had some type of story or memory that they wished to share. I would readily agree because I wanted to know how other people lived and how people did things before I was around. I have taken these experiences and kept them with me. Both my wife and I volunteer a lot of our time throughout the year with different causes. We don’t do it for any reason other than we enjoy helping people. I know, me the Grinch, helping people. It is surprising, however, I don’t think I would have ever gained that perspective in my life had I not experienced it at a young age. So as bad as they were, and they were awful, I did get something out from those holidays that was positive.
Other families are not like mine but can have problems of their own. This does not mean that there is not good things to enjoy during the holidays for them. Each family is unique and has many quirky aspects to them. You may have an Uncle Earl who is super creepy and loves to hug you for just a little too long, but he is family. I think what a lot of people don’t understand about family and them making you feel weird and uncomfortable; having to deal with all the fighting at the family get-togethers and to have these crazy events that never seem worth it, is that the reasoning for the event is not in the activities themselves, but in you gathering with people who share a similar history. You may have all gone different ways and now have different views but you all share a history and that can be rewarding in itself. Your kids will get to hear stories you used to tell from an entirely new perspective. They will hear funny things that you wished they never knew, but in the end they are just getting to experience pieces of your past and all that can do is make you close to them.
I know families fight and with the tension the holidays brings, it seems inevitable that your family will have at least one fight before holidays are over. I chuckle sometimes when I hear about the drama that sometimes pops up on my wife’s side. They cannot believe that this cousin, brother, sister did this or that. It can cause people to get upset, one person not want to talk to another and blah, blah, blah. I find it funny because what they do not get out of all of it, is that the only way people can bother each other like that is if they care for one another. You have to care about someone to let them get you upset. How many people on the train have you been upset at because he did not call you on your birthday? Probably zero and that is because you don’t really care about them. It is not that you dislike these people on the train, it is just that you don’t care one way or another. Family, that you care about, makes little things a little bigger in everyone’s mind because it can disrupt the delicate balance that you all have with each other. However, behind it all are the feelings you have for each other. So yes, your uncle Earl is creepy and hugs you too long, but he does care about you.
Even split families are the similar. They may not be able to be married anymore but that does not mean they do not have feelings for each other. I am not saying that you are still in love with your ex, but you still have feelings (although the negative feelings may have overrun the positive ones) in there somewhere. That is why little things bug you so much. I mean who cares if your ex buys your daughter hundreds of dollars of gifts and you don’t. In one month, those gifts will be forgotten and it will be the experience she had over the holidays that she will remember. Plus, the easiest way to bug someone who is trying to bother you is to not react. Instead, you are teaching your children how you should act.
Now, family can be very important over the holidays. People seem to get more time to be with their family and it is the time of year when you get to use that time to do nice things for or with them. I know for the family I am building and trying to instill certain things in over the holidays, it can be a challenge. however, I am sure it is going to be worth it. I want my kids to have fond memories of the holidays and to get those, we will do things together, not give each other big expensive gifts, but enjoy each others company. We won’t remember the gifts we give and get but we will remember the experiences. So take some time with your family this season and make a memory. Do something together that you will be able to remember for years to come.