Friday, August 3, 2012


 One of the best parts of having a family is getting together with them.  And the larger the family, the harder it is to do that.

 People get busy, move away, have families and obligations, lose touch, and get distracted; and before you know it the years slip by and everyone gets older and more set in their own worlds. We lament this fact, and we say we’re not going to let it happen; but it happens. Everybody gathers when there’s a funeral, and how often have you heard your relatives say then “it’s a shame we don’t all get together in good times”?

And even though we have more social networking sites than we can keep track of, it’s not the same. “Liking” someone is not the same as hanging out with them. Posting your pictures and looking at theirs is not the same as communicating and sharing face to face.

 So it was kind of cool when one of my in-laws suggested that the family get together. Easier said than done because people had lots of reasons for not being able to attend – it was too far, they had other plans, some were ill, and others had little time or interest. But because my wife is from such a large family, the idea resonated and 1/3 of all who were invited showed up. And when the obligatory picture that you see here was snapped, there were 34 smiling faces looking back at the camera.  While there were far more who didn’t attend, those that did came away with a renewed sense of family.

 Young cousins who rarely see each other were off building the kind of relationships that enable families to span generations. New boyfriends and girlfriends were introduced and quickly became part of the extended family.  Parents and aunts and uncles nodded happily at this process of continuity that is so often found during summer vacations and around holidays and events. And the result was the strengthening of those things that bind us all together: the pictures we keep and share, the memories we’ll talk about for years to come, the things that made us laugh and cry, the stories about things and people recently or long gone, and the experiences we’ll always remember. Everyone there, like everyone who has family get-togethers everywhere, has fond memories of these things, and we’re all stronger and better for having had them.

 When’s the last time you had any kind of contact with any of your relatives - not just those who conveniently live nearby, but with those you take time to reach out and connect with?  If the answer is: “you can’t remember”, then it’s been too long and you need to do something about it. Don’t let another week go by that you don’t pick up a phone or take a ride or write a letter to a relative you haven’t connected with in way too long; and don’t use Facebook – that’s a cop out! Do it the old fashioned face-to-face way and get all the advantages of being part of a family.  After all, that’s what having family is all about!

 My message this week is about being proud of who and what you are: 

"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out."  
-David Weatherford

 David Weatherford is a child psychologist with published poems in "Chicken Soup for the Soul", and he is the author of "Slow Dance", a poem widely reproduced throughout the Internet.

 What do you look for in life each day? Let’s start by admitting that life is full of challenges – and each one represents an opportunity.  What you do with each of those opportunities is the measure of your effectiveness – sort of like your personal report card. When presented with a challenge, do you look at it as something positive – a chance to show what you can do with all the knowledge skills and abilities you have; or do you see it as an obstacle or hassle – something that you grudgingly have deal with? Since either way you’ll have to tackle, you might as well view it as chance to show what you know and can do.  But if you approach it with a negative attitude, whatever you then do won’t be nearly as good as it could or should be.  And that’s the challenge – to look for a way, not a way out. Approach life’s challenges with a positive attitude and see how proud you’ll be!

 Stay well!

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