My parents were both born into large families. My father had twenty siblings and my mother had nine. By the time I was born, both families had scattered across the country, but they kept in touch. They would visit back and forth, celebrate holidays together and have family gatherings They were there for each other during good times and bad – always.
My parents had five daughters and one son. I was the youngest. From the time I can remember, my two oldest sisters were married and living away from home. My brother was ten years older than I, so he was in highschool when I was starting grade one. Regardless, I always knew all of my family. The older siblings would come home with their famlies to visit and we would go to visit them. I saw them regularly. Once we were all grown up, we were widespread, but we kept in touch and got together. We would gather on a regular basis. We all spent time with our parents and they would come to spend time with us. As our parents aged, and their health failed, we were there to support them, and each other. To this day, we keep in touch via social media, we call, we visit. We were, and we still are, family.
Back in my day, family meant something. Family was a commitment. Family was loyalty, respect, shared memories and a shared unconditional love for our parents and each other. We are not always super close, geographically or otherwise. We have our differences and we certainly all have our faults, but we would never deliberately or spitefully hurt each other. There is always a line of consideration that we do not cross as family. Family, and extended family matters.
Nowdays families are shattered on a regular basis. My own sons and daughter have little love or respect for each other. Their love and respect for me only goes so far. They certainly do not maintain peace in the family for my sake or anyone else’s. This has caused me much grief over the years. I have come to accept it, not because I want to, but because it is not my choice.
Our family is hardly unique. This is the norm for many these days. Family or not, you disagree with me, you cross me one way or another and you are toxic and you are out. There is no going back. I know sisters and brothers in their eighties who have nothing to do with each other, parents who won’t speak to their children, children who will not speak to their parents and children who do not know their aunts or uncles or cousins. Many, if not most, of these family breakdowns could have been resolved with a reasonable conversation, but people don’t want to talk and they certainly are not willing to listen.
It is a shame and it is beyond sad, especially during the holiday season, that families cannot set aside their differences. It is a shame that family members are strangers, that memories cannot be made or shared, and that traditions are lost. It is a shame that generations of children are growing up without the stability and security of extended family. It is terrible that such selfishness and disrespect shatters so many families.
It is not a wonder that there is so much conflict and violence in the world. Love and peace and respect and kindness are learned at home. If this is not what we are teaching our families, than what are we releasing into the world?