I’ve spent this evening with my family celebrating a life event. One of my aunts is 70. She and my other aunt are the last of their generation of the family so being there was very important to me.
Our family stretches from the aunties all the way down to the latest member, our one year old. There are brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, great aunts and grandchildren. As we enjoyed the chat, catching up and news, I thought about the wonder of a new life. As each new child adds on to our family tree I can see that the future of our family is being realised. The last names may change, we may move to other places or countries but we will still be linked. I love that idea. I feel like there is some continuity with my life. It’s there as my foundation. I know where I came from. And I know that my daughter knows her family too.
Of course, I know it’s not the same for every family. And I know that there are people who have not had the experience of a family connection. Certainly my family has lost connection with some branches of the tree. Time and distance has taken us out of each other’s orbit. Or the knowledge of who belongs in the family tree has faded away. I also know the challenges that face families in overcoming the hard life events. Illness, the death of a family member or a break up leaves a void. Grief, confusion and an empty place take a long time to heal. Especially when there are emotional issues creating unfinished business between family members.
Yet still I appreciate the wonder of a family life. We are social beings. Our preference is to live together in groups. Ties bind us and I am sure that these can be positive if we work at it.
I also feel we have to be prepared to redefine what we understand as family. There is often resistance to people who are newcomers – the ‘married in’s’ effect. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back from people who are already part of the family. I understand how I have free will choice and might possibly have to use it to remove myself from a family relationship if it become toxic. Knowing also that my friends can become family too. I watch their grandchildren in the same way as I watch my great nieces and nephews. If I can access the widest possible ‘family’ I can share in lots of life celebrations knowing that I am witnessing the continuation of a family tree. It’s the circle of life at it’s best. Whoever your family is I wish you many more celebrations, many more new additions and a family tree stretching forward as well as backward.
Day 292 of my blogging challenge.