Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Value of Family



About a month ago, I went to a family reunion for my mother's side of the family, held in a little lake town outside of Austin Texas.  We flew to Houston from Sacramento, drove to Austin, and I was excited with anticipation in getting to see aunts, uncles and cousins -  many of whom  I had not seen since childhood.


Why am I writing about this?  Because the trip was a reminder about why I am who I am....  a large determinant of who we are is where we came from our roots --and being around family again reminded me that my environment while growing up in many ways had an influence on who I am today.


The event was fun and somewhat emotional at the same time-- I really connected with several of our relatives-- Besides the typical hugs, stories, meeting the families, reminiscing, we also talked about and remembered our Grandfather, the common denominator to us all, and those family members no longer with us --including 2 of my mothers siblings and my younger brother, who passed away way too young from cancer. 


My biggest takeaways from the reunion, after being around my family after all these years were:


1).  Leave your ego and critical eye at the is a "safe haven"-- around our relatives we all get to be our self, without having the need to promote how successful we are, what we have, what we do, etc....most family members accept you for who you are and love you unconditionally without the need to promote your life's successes.  Conversely, you don't get to choose your family, so try to accept all in your family circle for who they are without a critical eye. 


2).  Traits....we all have personalities and as well idiosyncrasies about us that we cannot explain. After the reunion we spent 4 days with my half-brother in Houston (same dad, different mom) and my wife was continually laughing about traits that he and I share even though (excepting a few years when we were very young) we never grew up together.


3) Commonality...our ancestors are the common ground that links us.  Having been born in Texas, and seeing that most of my relatives on both sides of my family still live there (and that most have never lived anywhere else) it is interesting to note that even without the influence after age 9 of growing up in Texas that I fit right in with the local culture -- with the exception of drink preferences...not a big fan of sweet tea - I prefer mine unsweetened, and they just do not know how to make a proper martini in Mexican restaurants in Houston!


4) Connect and stay the end of the reunion, we all promised to stay in touch and to schedule the next one, and visit each other when possible.  Facebook, Facetime, Skype and cell phones/texting make it easier than ever to stay in touch.  One thing we all discussed is how time seems to fly by so quickly, and that it is so easy to get caught up in life and lose contact with those in your family circle.


It's a sad thing that some people don't make the effort to reach out to their family, both immediate or extended, as often as they could or should.  Some relatives in my family are like that and I just don't understand why.....


Family is personal;  family is safety and security;  family is love; family is understanding and support. 


Who wouldn't want that in their life?


Also remember even though this article is based upon my recent encounter with blood relatives, that "family" is not always defined as a relative.


Commit to reach out to your "family" today, and regularly if you don't already.......could be a phone call, or an invite on Facebook or to a Bar-B-Que if they are local.... a single commitment to act will enrich your life!