As the holidays approach, the thought on many people’s mind is encompassed with the idea of “family.” But, what exactly is family? The definition of family in this day and age is somewhat skewed: “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.” This is not always the norm. Luckily, not all definitions are inaccurate, as Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary has embraced the definition as “a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation.” When you look at family this way, then the question of where you will go on holidays opens up many opportunities to discover your true family.
As children we often grow up learning about the “typical” family. Many people can remember playing “house” as a game. There was always a mommy and a daddy, and usually a brother or sister. Television shows typically had this outline, while books read at school and the library embraced this family stereotype. But what if you were the child who didn’t fit this mold? What if you were being raised by your aunt? What if you came home after football practice to greet the grandparents who had raised you since you were little? What if you got dropped off at school from a group-home bus? Everyone has a different interpretation of family and not one idea of family is better than the next. Katherine Schulten of the New York Times reveals in an article titled, How Do You Define The ‘Family’?: “Statistically, it is no longer a mother, a father and their biological children living together under one roof.” When we adopt the idea that family is not always what our schema has been taught, we are more aware of the people around us in our community.
Regardless of who is considered “family” to you, there are definitely some key elements that we as individuals should seek in our families. Just like any relationship, families are hard work. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with your family, treating them with love and respect is essential in maintaining these connections. Sure, you may have a nagging family member who will be quick to criticize you or your significant other, but just remember that they may be going through some hardships themselves, and you should try not to take their negative habits to heart. If you are blessed to have a healthy family that is welcoming of others, and you know of someone who is less fortunate than yourself, think about the blessing you could be to that person by inviting them to the dinner table. A home cooked meal says a thousand loving words! So, whether you grew up in a “typical” family, came from a dysfunctional one, or you have created your own chosen family, remember that no matter whom you have put under that title, remember to surround yourself with love. W