Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Search values

Once a year my mother's side of the family has a reunion. We don't call it a "reunion" per se, but since that's the term most people go by, I'll call it that. We call it a Family Circle and it originated in New York in the 1930's when everyone lived within a subway ride's distance from one another. To my great grandfather who started it, it was a way to keep his children and their children close because of all the core values he had, family was the most important to him. And so it came to be that as the years progressed and the family grew and spread out, assimilating into American society, this Family Circle became less frequent, but not less revered. So once a year someone offers to host it and as many people as can make it venture forth to the east or the west for a weekend of catching up and camaraderie.

I cannot begin to remember how many people outside my family have commented to me that this is an amazing and uncommon thing that we do, that most families are not this close, do not genuinely enjoy each other this much, and would never make a weekend of extended family a priority. And so I've started wondering how anyone can truly talk about "family values" without valuing family.

Family gives us all an opportunity to grow in the most meaningful ways imaginable because no one can push your buttons more, and inclusion is not predicated on choice. So no matter what the intellect, personal attributes, political views or economic status, you don't need to look far to practice and improve a personal skill set that includes tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance and compromise. And those are skills that would stand us all in good stead as we go about our everyday lives in the world.

So for this coming weekend, I will be hanging out with doctors and lawyers, writers and artists, teachers, business people, the unemployed, and the retired. I'll be with small children and the elderly, the lighthearted and not so lighthearted. There will be talk of things current and things past. There will be lots of food and even more laughter. There will be an opportunity to get to know people and be known by them. I will come away personally enriched as I always do, with a sense of pride at a tradition that has managed to survive beyond its founding members' lifetimes. I will come away looking forward to future gatherings and carrying with me a sense of connectedness to the world around me that transcends the current times in which I live. This connectedness is something I wish every person could experience and know for themselves, but for now I can only be an emissary, bringing to others only that which I myself embody.

So while I'm enjoying my family, I hope you'll take some time to enjoy yours - maybe call a cousin or aunt you haven't spoken to in a while, maybe take a minute to appreciate the link in the chain that is all of our lives and will somehow, knowingly or unknowingly, be a part of the future of humanity.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends...or your family.

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