My extended family gathered together recently to celebrate Christmas. It was wonderful! There were 29 of us – 12 adults and 17 kids. We spent a few blissful days in the country, swimming in dams and creeks, riding bikes, tubing behind a jet ski, eating leftovers in the shade, sleeping sprawled on spare spots on the floor and enjoying each other’s company. I reluctantly said goodbye, wishing the togetherness could go on for longer.
I was thinking recently how this happiness doesn’t just happen. It was actually my children’s bickering that made me think of it. School holidays always brings about ridiculous niggling between the children – it drives me nuts. It came to the point that I called a family meeting to regroup. I wanted to put the value of family and relationships in perspective, and so I tapped into our recent family gathering which my children adore.
You see, the wonderful-wonderful time we had together over Christmas doesn’t just magically happen. It stared when my three sisters and I were children. My parents expected us to learn to love, care and importantly, understand each other. Siblings can be extremely different in personality and it’s unrealistic to expect harmony all the time. However, I can see now, that the expectations and training my parents gave me, along with a shared history, has become a heritage my own children now enjoy.
It takes time, but I approach the relationships in our family with the same expectations – that we all learn to understand each other better, so we can love each other a better as time goes on. It’s a skill for any close relationship. One day in the future, when my children are all adults, I hope they will continue to enjoy that togetherness – the foundation starts now.