“You are my baby.”

“You got that quirk from your mother.”

“You’re just like your father.”

You are YOU as far as you’re concerned. But, you did come from someone … or two. You did not just appear. Unless you have alien status. “Don’t know where she came from.”  A parent disowning you perhaps? Well, like it or not you are part of a family. Forever. Can never take that away from you … like air in your lungs … begetting and sustaining you … no matter how foul … or pure. You are the progeny of two people. You are a son; you are a daughter. Someone thought enough about you to keep you alive ‘til you could ‘fend’ for yourself. You are or were dependent. And thankful you may be or resentful for this DE PEN DEN CEE, you had no choice in the matter.

Now you are rambling through life. Remaining close to a parent or parents? Brothers, sisters? Grandparents, uncles, aunts? Nice to have people ‘know’ you and care about you. Makes the holidays a time to look forward to. Meaningful ways to spend your money:  searching for and finding gifts. Oh joy!  The moment of elation: when a loved one unveils your purchase or your handicraft. And of course the feasts that come with timely celebrations … can be memorable … or maybe something else … arduous perhaps. Your ‘family’ life nevertheless is an intermingling of memory and sentiment, expectations and disappointments. You have ‘evolved’ to this point hosting various images and attitudes towards family members. Some you are estranged from, some remain close. And of course, there are those whom you ‘tolerate’ in order to keep the peace. Not always easy choosing between cordiality/accommodation and dismissive-ness/hostility. But you most often try the former.

Though family is family you cannot help but hold some in high esteem while castigating others. Only natural. You live with history. Life has a way of revealing true natures. Some you may find appealing, others repulsive. You accommodate for the sake of mom or dad. When they are gone you may disengage altogether … ‘til the next funeral. But brief encounters can never bridge back bonds ill formed or severed years ago. Too bad for all concerned.

‘Family’ has played a vital role in human relations for millennia. Besides the obvious physical and emotional support, ‘blood lines’ have also determined who inherits wealth and status. Powerful interests that depend on lineage have often sustained a nation’s cohesiveness. A good example is the Medici family in Italy. Their prominence began with Cosimo born in 1389 and continues to this day. Quite a run. Cooperation has certainly been important … for them and for family dynasties worldwide. But that type of fidelity has waned in the modern world.

Multitudes live in cities and suburbs where small families are practical and the norm. Exacerbating the family unit further is the ease with which members can uproot themselves. Large metropolises and even other countries hold an allure. Young people in search of independence and opportunities leave home and often do not return.

Add to this the ubiquitous media phenomena. Television has been alienating youth from adults for over half a century. Many parents depend on it to keep their children occupied. Whereas adults once shared skills and important chores with their family, today the young are relegated to strangers for instruction. Family interchange is becoming rare as all sorts of diversions captivate young minds. The aged also find themselves marginalized. Since family relationships have diminished, many seniors live alone sharing little with their progeny. What a waste:  experience, even wisdom squandered … to say nothing about the opportunities for loving.

Remember that sharing is a vital part of your life. Opportunities for participating in the lives of others should always be seriously considered. Yes, you may have issues with relatives. But when at all possible concessions should be made. Shared history is important. An integral part of you has been influenced by the past. Explore it and cherish it. Make attempts to bridge back with family members. The rewards are worth it. You will be surprised by revelations and talents hidden within your natural ‘circle’. You will develop empathy for   those whose struggles and accomplishments are revealed. You have experienced this with strangers. So why not with family?? And who knows, an actual ‘relationship’ may evolve.



©2007-2008 Edwin O'Shea and All or part of only one topic, including all definitions and essay, may be used without written permission. Please see full copyright notice on home page.