Personal Connections

“CHECKING OUT” FOR A WEEK has done wonders for my creativity. Shedding responsibilities for the short term is great! I’m feeling far more relaxed — it was delightful to see family members that I haven’t seen since the last major family “events”. Way too long between visits, that’s for sure. It’s sad that—for our family, at least—it takes a big event to get family together.

Staying connected on a personal level (not the electronic kind—that’s another thing altogether … grumble) is such an important aspect of family—at least, that’s my feeling. In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to do that. With our family—my parents and all of the kidlets (including me), it always seemed to be an issue. Dad’s work took him away from his family (business trips) and extended family—parents, brothers and sisters, and many cousins due to his many transfers as he climbed the corporate ladder. There were plenty of transfers, taking us mostly to different parts of California, but one biggie—my dad’s last business transfer—took us to the Midwest. While we lived in California, we would make “pilgrimages” three to four times annually: New Years in Pasadena (for the Rose Bowl Parade and family time (mostly the “male population” watching football on the tv, the kids playing and the wives … doing what wives did back then ), Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas in his home town, where all the families would “migrate” to celebrate the holidays together. Once we lived out of state, these pilgrimages ended (or at least happened far less frequently)—costs became prohibitive to travel so far with a large family.

By the time my grandparents passed away, many of the grandkids had grown up and moved away … and the coming together as one very large family gathering slowly died out. Individual families celebrated with their own children and grandchildren—possibly even a few of their brothers’ and sisters’ families. Our family was no different—but our together-time became less structured as time went by. We scattered to the four corners of the States—no different that my cousins, but they somehow managed to keep a tighter, closer relationship with their siblings—and for us, visiting became insurmountable by most of the family members. Even funeral and wedding events were a hardship, so our family unit became even more fractured. I mourned with each degree of separation because I love my brothers and their families so much and cherish our times together—yet … even I found myself unable to justify a two day trip across the country—both financial and time-wise.

When my parents moved back to my dad’s hometown, he and his siblings tried to resurrect the tradition in the form of a progressive dinner or alternating the hosting family. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a roaring success.

Since then, there have been two large family reunions—and everyone loved them, but they were labour-intensive (especially the first one, since it ended up being a combination reunion/memorial—sadly, my aunt, the “grand-organiser” of the event, passed away shortly before the reunion!), so there’s been quite a gap between them. I love and admire my cousins for stepping up and taking the challenge on! It was definitely a team effort on their part—God bless them!!

So, any “reunion” I manage to attend (whether filled with sorrow or joy) is very sweet, indeed—no matter the size, no matter which family members are able to attend. I cherish the family time. My niece’s wedding was no exception. Though only one of my siblings from the west coast plus my daughter, her husband and yours truly were able to fly in, it was wonderful to see my younger brothers and one set of nephews—and the bride, of course. She was absolutely radiant—and not flustered one iota by any hiccup that came her way. Cool as a cucumber, as the saying goes! After the wedding, she and her hubby could relax and began their new life together by celebrating with friends and extended family. Lots of family! It was delightful to be introduced to the new branch of our family tree—trying to remember everyone I met is another thing entirely, but they have been forewarned of my forgetfulness … it was wonderful.

Both of my younger brothers are wanting to close the gap between visits—I want to renew my commitment to put a priority on family and extended family. I keep promising to visit, but time, prior commitments and/or finances hold me back. I need to find a way to create some dedicated family time. Now … to figure out how to manage that with upcoming book signings and the frenzy to republish my books with my brand-new publishing company.

It will be quite the balancing act. Oh, I do love a challenge—at least, that’s what I keep saying.