In Canada a few years ago, several provinces (but not all) declared the third Sunday in February to be a holiday. Some provinces use different names for it but here in BC we call it “Family Day”.
The main reason for creating it was to give a break between January 1st and Easter, which could be any time in March or April depending on the year. The secondary reason is to celebrate families.
It got me thinking about the whole concept of family.
There is, of course, your core family – your parents and siblings. These days this can include blended families which means one or even two step-parents and both step-siblings and half-siblings. Not to mention any spouses, nieces, and nephews.
As well, if you are adopted and have found your birth family, that adds even more layers to the family structure.
As you grow up you may find someone you love and marry them (or not). They are your family. You may or may not have children. This becomes your own core family.
Next, there are the in-laws. In my case, my own parents have passed and I am not in contact with my sister or nephews so I consider my in-laws (my husband has both parents and 4 siblings) as my family. And again, there are spouses, nieces, and nephews.
Beyond that, there are the people you have grown up with. I had (RIP) two women who were like mothers to me and friends that are more family than my own family.
I have no ill will with my sister. She is over 8 years my senior and left when I was 8 and she was sixteen. The years we had together were good, though her being a teen and me a child didn’t allow for a lot of bonding. And then in later years, my illness got in the way. I love her and still consider her my family – I always will. If there was a chance for us to get together I would have a lot to say that would hopefully mend things.
For a couple like ourselves who don’t have any children, there are always other forms of family. We have managed to build on two of them. The first being a whole pile of young people we have watched grow up through a youth group we volunteered with, a couple of camps we cooked at and our church youth in general. Secondly, we have two fur-kids, Miley the dog and Monkey the cat. Most people in our dog park are “Mom’s and Dad’s” to their pets… and many of them have kids as well! LOL!!
Communities can also be considered a family.
We are getting to know many of the people in our strata building. The other day I fell in my suite and couldn’t get up so without hesitation I called a few of the residents until I found someone home who came right away. We collect packages for each other, check in on them when we haven’t heard from them for a while and are sad when they move out.
I am part of a huge community of chronic health warriors and I consider many of them as my family. We are able to tell each other how we are feeling sometimes easier than our own families because we know they understand and have been there. Again, I have people who message me if I haven’t posted in a while or participated in a group. I do the same for them as well.
My church is also my family. We have only been part of this one for about a year and I don’t get there very often but we are able to watch a live feed online every week and they check in on us via email as well.
Finally, as per my post the other day about self-worth, we should think of ourselves as part of a family. Chronic illness (of any kind) tends to lead to isolation and loneliness. It often keeps us from all of the above. We need to see ourselves as an integral part of our own family so that we can not only be there for any of our other “family” members but to allow them to be there for us.
There is only one song that I could pick for this post…you know the one! 😉