Monday, February 28, 2011

How We Chose Our Family

If it often said that you can chose your friends but you can’t chose your family. The older I get the more I find this statement to be false.

Yes, you have no choice in who you are genetically associated with but you have a choice in the person that you marry and the way that you include people in your life to create a family in the spiritual sense.

Some believe that we have certain obligations when it comes to family but these feelings of responsibilities are in fact choices. Labeling something in your life as an obligation doesn’t mean that you don’t have a choice in the matter. Rather it’s a prioritization that is based in such deep seated values that we don’t’ questions them.

This all hit me a couple weekends ago at my cousin’s wedding reception watching my family celebrate this incredible event. This was my paternal cousin and it was truly a remarkable thing that this family could share this time together.

Recently that side of the family has gone through major changes.  Twenty years ago my paternal grandparents lived near Seattle. Two of my dad’s aunts lived nearby and one of uncles also lived within driving distance.  My other two aunts lived in Denver and Taiwan. Even with those two aunts far away it seemed like we were getting together as a family all the time. I grew up playing with my nine cousins and the time we spent together was just a part of life, nothing special.

Then thing started to change.  My older cousins started going to college and we saw less of them. Before I knew it I was going off to college myself and we simply didn’t get together as a family as much as we used to. Then six years ago, my grandmother passed away. Three years my uncle left us and last year my grandfather died.

Now my family feels very different.

Currently my paternal extended family resides in three different countries and five different states. The lynchpin, what held that family together, my grandparents and my uncle are gone.  Instead of our connection being within them it’s in all of us.  We can chose to celebrate this or not.  And we chose to be a family.

It’s in emails, phone calls and trying to get together when we happen to be in town. Most of all it’s making the most of the moments we share together.

Watching my family coming together I was struck with a feeling of peace and contentment knowing that even though we all live very different lives in very different palaces we are still connected.  Yes, there is blood that ties us together but there’s also traditions, values and our culture. But there’s something else. It’s a choice, it’s the effort, the decision we make to value each other.  In that, we continue to be a family beyond the loss of those who have passed, embracing the new people we welcome into our family and sharing our lives together as a family.

No comments:

Post a Comment