When I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day, she told me something that totally blew my mind. She was reading an article about New Year’s resolutions not to make, and “spend more time with family” was on the list! Basically, the article said that if someone were to make that resolution, he or she would only be setting him or herself up for failure because no one is ever going to want to give up vacation time to see family or spend money on a plane ticket to see family. The compromise this article offered: calling once a week or once every other week. What?!
Now I know realize I am closer to my parents than most people. I talk to them just about everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. Still, I have such a hard time accepting the fact that a published article encouraged people to be selfish with time. The article said that you’d also be setting your family up for disappointment, so by not making the resolution, “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”
I live six hours away from my parents, and so far I have been blessed enough to see them just about once a month since I got married. My husband and I have also been able to visit with his parents a good amount, as well. I’m not saying that people who don’t visit their parents monthly or talk to their parents every day don’t love their family. I know there are plenty of people who can’t see their families as much as they would love to, and I am so thankful to be able to see my family as often as I can. What baffles me is the idea of someone wasting vacation time and money on visiting family. How is that a waste? I began to wonder reasons that I view family time so differently than a lot of Americans apparently view family time.
Of course there are a lot of overlapping and compounding factors, but this is one thing that really stood out in my mind: [Forced] Family Fun
When I was really little, this was just called family fun. At least one day a week, we were going to do something fun as a family. I remember my utter excitement when Sunday nights would roll around and we’d all watch whatever was playing on the Magical World of Disney on ABC Family (before the channel started playing more risque, non-family shows). The summers were even better because my mom would plan fun things all throughout the week since she was off of work. Whether it was tie-dying shirts or going to the park, we were always doing fun things together. Furthermore, vacation for our family quite often meant going to see extended family. We didn’t have to choose between the two, because they were the same thing. Two or three times a year, my family all piled in our mini-van, and before that a Camry (guess which one of the three kids always got stuck in the middle seat) to travel to Ohio or Florida, visiting our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And even when we did start going on other vacations together, it was always as a family.
It wasn’t until we were older that we lovingly worked the word “Forced” into the title of our Family Fun night. When my brothers and I were younger, we couldn’t wait for our family night, but as we got older, our own activities and social lives started to take priority in our eyes. It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy time together, but we ran cross-country, were all involved in different clubs, and we all had our own groups of friends. How in the world were we supposed to pick one night a week that we would all be together when none of our schedules coincided? Yet my parents persisted. No matter how mad it made us at times, they were determined that we would still make time to be a family. There were occasional exceptions to the rule, but “occasional” is the key word. We would watch movies as a family, have family getaways to Hilton Head for a weekend, and we would support each other in our extracurriculars as a family. Yes, it was sometimes against my brothers’ and my will. Yes, this time was certainly forced. We hated the feeling that we were missing out on social activities or anything else “just” to make time for each other. And yet, it was usually a great time once we were actually there. I would wonder Why didn’t I want to be here, again?
Looking back, I think it was the people growing up without [Forced] Family Fun that really missed out. They missed out on time spent and memories that they can never get back. They missed out on learning that a lot of their friends will come and go, but family will always be there. I’m not saying it’s bad to be social or to be involved in a lot of activities or to enjoy a break from family every now and then so you can catch your breath. I think all of those things are important as well. In fact, one of the things I miss the most being down in Charleston is the lack of social time I have with friends. Still, I’m saying that family (and the truest of friends who end up becoming like family) should come first in your list of priorities. I’m so thankful my parents were willing to put in the time and effort it took to teach me this valuable lesson.
So, in honor of [Forced] Family Fun, here are some of the wonderful memories my family has made throughout my life.