Family Ties

So, its been two weeks since I last posted, which is so much longer than I had planned.

I won’t beat myself up about it, and I know the good intentions were there.

But I had my reasons. Well, my reason.

Around the family home, we called it… “Friday Christmas”.

Which is family code for, we celebrate Christmas on whatever freakin day we can all be together.

This year, it was Friday, January 24.

My sister and her man came home for a week, and the whole wonderful, crazy, whirlwind of loud, curlyhaired sisters driving the family crazy under one roof came to a happy end on “Friday Christmas” day. We had turkey, and pie, and presents, and a tonne of laughter with my brother, his girlfriend, a couple honorary family members and the parents.

It has been way too long since we have all been under the same roof like that, and it was overwhelming to see again how families can redefine the word family.

Around here, family has always meant welcome.
If you are here, you are welcome to join our family. You can join for an hour, for a day, for a year, for however you need, or forever. This was celebrated this year in the presence of two extra brothers, one who practically prepared my sister for life (her words, not mine) and one who is living faraway from his biological family (renting a room from my brother and working at the same shop my dad and brother work. Come in, take a seat, make yourself at home, you belong here.

Family has always meant overwhelming, as well.
We are overwhelmingly loud. Overwhelmingly crazy. Overwhelmingly clumsy. Overwhelmingly emotional (happy to seething, 0 to 60, no time flat). Overwhelmingly unpredictable.
We are also overwhelmingly loving. Overwhelmingly giving. Overwhelmingly joyous.  And overwhelmingly forgiving.

We are not all these things at once, but at any given moment…one of us is displaying one of the above traits.

Family also means strong.
We may be crazy and emotional and unpredictable, but we are stronger together. And we are displays of strength to each other in each moment. This past week I learned a little bit more about how strong my sister is, a strength she learned from my parents and a strength that each of us kids has taken away from our family.

Family means comfort.
There is a comfort in knowing that each member of the family is under the same roof, even for a moment. To see those roots reaching back towards each other, intertwining again for an hour or so….remembering where you came from and all that these people know about you and have done with and for you.
There is a comfort in knowing that these people will love you, completely, no matter what your damage is.

Family means so much more than these words. Sometimes it means something more profound, sometimes it means something so simple and clear; but it is always important. I have been trying to figure out how to be vulnerable with my family, to share with them how I feel and what I love about each of them…but this past week it became very apparent to me that family is always vulnerable around here, always raw. We are a lovely bunch of people, but like most (all?) families, we have a habit of being a bit abrasive with each other. I don’t have to try to be vulnerable or honest with them, all I have to do is look up from my plate and my siblings know whats going on in my heart.

Does this mean I never have to say anything real to them? Or that I don’t need to tell them how great they are?
Absolutely not.
But it does mean that I don’t have to worry about it in the way that I have been. I need to communicate with my siblings more regularly, I need to make an effort to share life with them rather than monthly updates. I need to make the best of the time I have living so close (basement close) to my parents, in case life takes me farther away. I need to remember to value them, and to try not to pick fights with them. (Yay! for zero screaming matches with fiery big sis last week!)
I don’t need to worry so much about getting outside of our current comfort zones; I need to concentrate more on actually utilizing the connections we already have.

Family is one of the most valuable things that we are blessed with. Whether family means a biological connection to you, or an honorary connection, an adopted connection, a church or group connection, or just a wonderful friend who has taken you under their wing; family in any form is incredibly valuable.

I encourage you to pick up the phone and call someone who has acted in a family role in your life, or head over for a cup of coffee and just remind yourself how lucky you are to have those people.

Take advantage of your closeness with those people, in case life takes you farther away.

Have a wonderful week, friends!


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