Holiday Thoughts and Cherished Memories

10:30:00 AM

Hello Fellow Bee readers!

Holidays are the time of year where people tend to be one of two things: cheerful or depressed. I love holidays! It reminds me of family, friends and funny memories. I grew up in a very large family. Every holiday, close to 50 people, just on my mother’s side would gather at my grandparent’s not so large house, to enjoy the sometimes very forced holiday events. We ate, drank, played games, exchanged gifts and plenty of conversation. These are memories I cherish still to this day, because within the past few years I’ve learned to spend these holidays by myself or with other people’s very gracious families. It makes you really think about what you have when it’s not always accessible anymore.

That’s the topic of choice this week, you guessed it, family! What exactly does that word mean? The definitions will vary with each individual you meet. I grew up knowing my family were the people I see at holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, etc. They are your blood, and from that I’ve learned three important things. Sometimes blood family can be the most distant family you have, sometimes they are the only thing you’ve got and sometimes they’re not blood related at all. Confused yet? Let me explain. Within such a large family dynamic, if you’re not outspoken, you tend to be forgotten or left out. It’s like a written rule or something. I had a hard time connecting with a lot of my family growing up, not only because I was the only one of my age, but because I never felt as if I had anything important to say. I wasn’t really sure if anyone had noticed or not. As I grew older, I got to have more “adult” conversations with my family, ya know, the “where are you going to college?”, “what do you want to do with your life?”, “do you have a boyfriend yet?” The conversation every college student now dreads, but the more they asked the more connected I felt in a way. As I began to feel more connected, I began to open up about my beliefs, my values, and myself. Unfortunately, this is sometimes where the word family becomes blurred. I noticed that some of the most supportive people were not blood related, that’s not to say my blood relatives were not supportive, but to be fair, a few of them were not. I began to realize that my own definition of family might have been skewed and frankly generalized.

Through spending these past few years of holidays alone, I’ve really got to thinking about my definition of family and what I’ve learned is this; every person has their own family that they have built up throughout their lives, their blood relatives are the ones they are born into, they raise you, they teach you, they impact you with memories to cherish, and you have “not-blood” relatives, these are the people you get to choose, but both have something in common, some stay, some leave, some people surprise you and grow closer, while some surprise you and grow distant, but the main things I’ve learned about family is that sometimes they really are all you have, whether their blood is coursing though your veins or a stranger turned friend. Don’t take them for granted, take notice at the small advances for connection, some of the best of friends have become relatives and some relatives have become the best of friends, I’ve learned to group them together and call them all my family.

Missing these goons. Photo circa 1997. You're welcome. 

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