Make the Most of Time With Your Family

December 31, 2011 · Posted in Family · Comment 

I am lucky to have so many happy memories from my childhood. When we were young, my little brother and I would chase our small dog around our big back yard. After we got a bit older, our parents would take us to swimming lessons at the beach. Afterwards, we would then stop by for ice cream at the kiosk on the way home. Later on as teens, we would spend time with the other teenagers in the neighborhood, riding our bicycles in the street until it got dark. More time passes, we grow up, and then move away. Even though you love your parents and that will never change, it is easy for families to grow away from each other. It is this time of the year-holiday season-when we are reminded just how important it is not to take our family for granted.

Show Appreciation for Family

Showing appreciation of family members is so important, but sadly it is not always an easy thing to do. For example, my Dad and I have never really had an openly loving relationship. We’re tough guys and sharing your feelings isn’t the norm. We do love each other, very much, but we share an unspoken kind of love. He had the same relationship with his father and never let him know that he loved him until it was too late. That’s why I decided to make sure that this is not how it ends up for my Dad and me. Now we share the occasional awkward: ‘I love you Dad, I love you son’ moment. The relationship is not perfect by any means, but it is something we both work hard at. When it comes to my partner’s family, the situation is the direct opposite. When you come to dinner you get a hug upon arrival, and you get more hugs when you leave. It does make me a bit jealous sometimes, but it does give me something to shoot for.

Priorities

Look at life this way. If you died tomorrow, your coworkers would mourn you for a short time but it is a guarantee you would be replaced and the office would go on without you. On the other hand, the family you leave behind will endure the loss for the rest of their lives. They will celebrate you often and they will never forget you. Consider now how much time you spend at work, and how much time you devote to your family. The level of importance should be very clear regarding time spent with loved ones, especially during the holidays. Every year my aunty and my mother organise a huge get-together that my whole family attends. My dad has eight sisters and brothers…and each of those has at least two young adult children of their own…and some of them have kids as well! It is loud and busy and chaotic…but I would have it no other way. It is the best way I can think of to spend the holidays.

Keep In Touch With Loved Ones

Always make every effort possible to spend time with your family. If you’ve become distant, be the one to take the first step and initiate contact. Maybe invite your family over for a nice dinner together. Try to initiate get-togethers on a regular basis. If you live far from your family, give them a call on the telephone. You can rest assured they would love hearing from you. Reminisce together and let your family know how dear those memories are to you. Take a few moments to write them a letter. If time is restricted, send an email instead. My mother sends me spam; the typical amusing (junk) emails that would annoy you if they came from anyone else. She has a hidden agenda, I believe, conscious or not, to avoid being forgotten. Her joke emails are intended to remind me she is there, and after she sends them we start an email conversation and both feel better because of it.

Every family has its good and bad times; there simply is no such thing as a perfect family. But your family is the only one you have, and they are the ones who will always be there for you when you need them. The time we have to spend with our family is precious, so we should avoid spending it fighting with one another. Never leave it until too late to show your appreciation and let your family know you are thinking of them.

We have all been in a rut, locked in a pattern of circumstances that we cannot seem to get out of. Sometimes, those circumstances change by themselves, but more often we need to take action to ensure that we don’t become stuck in a rut.