Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Importance of Family

Earlier this year I missed out on an opportunity to get together with a whole bunch of family members - aunts, uncles and cousins who I haven't seen for years.  The invitation came just after Christmas and I was worried about money, so I passed it up.  However, I regretted my decision almost immediately, when I stopped to think how rare these chances are, given that we're all so far-flung and busy these days.

So when I heard that one of my cousins from the UK was coming to Canada to visit this summer, I vowed I wouldn't make the same mistake again!  Moreover, she was bringing her sister, a cousin who I spent a large chunk of my childhood with, but who I hadn't seen for almost twenty years!! 

They were to start their visit in my parent's hometown on the West Coast, and because I was originally not supposed to be there, once I confirmed my travel arrangements, I wanted to surprise my 'long-lost' cousin.  For many months, every phone call, every Facebook comment was vetted for mention of vacation plans, to make sure we didn't give the game away!!

I have to say that the look on her face when I walked in was worth every penny of the airfare!  It was the best surprise I've ever pulled off, I think (even better than the Hubby's surprise birthday party, where I swear he almost had a heart attack!!).  And in spending time together for a week, I was reminded of all the lovely things about her that made us so close growing up.

I had a similar experience last year, when I spent my fiftieth birthday in Dublin.  My oldest friend (i.e. the one I've had the longest, not the oldest chronologically-need to make that clear!!) met up with me there, and we spent the weekend visiting, catching up and reminiscing.  With those who are important to us, there is a shared history, a sense of seeing the world differently, but similarly, and in the case of both of these ladies, a slightly goofy sense of humour!

I always include friends as family, as I think family should be a verb rather than a noun.  My family, along with many others, is a testament to the fact that blood is not actually thicker than water; it is more about what you do than any name it's given.  Indeed the 'family' celebration that we had in honour of my cousins' visit included very dear friends who have been there when either our or their family members couldn't be.

Those people that we consider our family - our tribe if you will - really are the glue that holds our lives together.  They are the ones who have seen us at our worst, yet love us anyway.  They are the ones whose arms are extended to us, whether in welcome, comfort or encouragement.  They are the ones we should never take for granted, but they are the ones we most often do.  It is however, a privilege to have such people there for us, and if we're lucky, we get to do the same for them.

Who is a part of your family?  Whose back do you have?  I'd love to hear about some of the important people you include in your clan.



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