I’m totally stealing this idea from a friend of mine, but after we discussed it the other day, it continues to rattle around in my head. Let’s see if it resonates with you.
The holiday season is upon us, Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and then we have the blur of madness between it and Christmas. Small talk seems to revolve around plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas; who will you see, where will you spend it, is it family tradition or are you breaking out on your own for something new. A common theme we hear in those responses, however, is complaining. How many people are dreading seeing their in-laws, sister’s husband, that one cousin, having to spend “boring” time with a grandparent, or maybe even dreading seeing their own parents for one reason or another?
People, this is sad!
Now, I know not every family situation is black and white or simple, there are some out there with very legitimate reasons for dread and avoidance. I’m not talking about those situations, I’m talking about those who are griping about spending time with their family because it’s an inconvenience, they share mildly different views or ways of life, they don’t like the way Betty cooks, or how their brother dresses, Mom talks to loud and is nosy, and Grandpa has an annoying laugh. Whatever it is, you get the gist.
I struggle relating to those comments and sentiments. Even those in my family who occasionally drive me crazy, and there are certainly a few, I hold very dear to my heart. I will be the first to admit that I was blessed with an extraordinary family. Starting with my grandparents on both sides of the family, an amazing example of strength, perseverance, and love. They didn’t all always make the right decisions, heck, they didn’t even always handle their mistakes well. They did, however, survive! They lived through wars, depressions, women’s rights becoming a thing, jobs, firings, many children. They have seen and done things that I cannot even imagine. Some of my grandparents are gone now, I miss them dearly. I have no regrets about the amount of time that I spent with them, learning, loving, growing, but man o man what I would give to share another turkey dinner with them.
My parents, they have just entered into their retirement years. They have gone from being tired, a bit grumpy, and having a slightly negative outlook after working their butt’s off for 45 years. To being free, adventurous, their laughter and life passion is contagious. They remind me of teenagers now. I swear they are out to get into as much trouble as possible (meaning that in the best possible way). We all go through stages with our parents. We love them when we are young, we battle against them when we get into our teens, we respectfully and humbly come back to them in our twenties after we realize we didn’t actually know it all, and then the true friendship relationship blooms. My mom calls me daily, sometimes many times a day. Why? Who knows, sometimes to catch up, sometimes to tell me she’s driving to the store and bored. I sometimes think, “Doesn’t she know I’m working? Doesn’t she know I’m busy?”
Guess what? Some day she won’t be “bothering” me any more. Some day my phone won’t ring with her always-happy, sweet voice. That day will come. It will come for all of these folks that we gripe about seeing for this or that silly reason. We all know this, but we push it out of our minds.
I’m here to remind you, life is short. Our time together is precious. We have so much to share and learn from our families. They are part of our tribe. Enjoy them. Soak in those crazy snorting laughs, those amazing high-wasted poly pants, laugh off your grandma’s gossip and wry comments, hug your mother and father. Take advantage of the time we are gifted with them. Savor the way the family recipe of stuffing tastes, that no one makes pie like your aunt, the way your cousin derails every story you tell. Seriously, let the crap go and invest yourself in making the memories that you can hold onto forever!
Love it, live it, appreciate it.