Preserving What's Good About FamilyI've been struggling for a long time with the concept of 'family'. When I was growing up, my mother and father took us to regularly visit various members of both sides of the family, we had family cook outs with cousins, Aunts and Uncles, we had family Christmas parties, etc. My father organized family reunions for his family, as he observed that the only time family seemed to gather was at a funeral.
I haven't seen many members of my family for a very long time, that is their choice, not mine, so I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to bring together my husband's side of the family. I put together dinners, cook outs, birthday parties, holiday meals, etc., trying to get the family together.
Over the last few years, we've had some drama over family times. I've realized that though I long for a big, happy family get-together, with a successful result, it's likely not going to happen because other members of the family don't necessarily agree with the importance or value I place on 'family' time together.
Already this year, my husband and I have had several bad results, were left with hurt feelings, having had a bad experience when gathering family. There are some younger members of the family that aren't interested in getting together and enjoying our time together. They complain, question everything, are generally grumpy and seem to be bored or 'put out' by having to tolerate time together.
It won't be long and we'll be facing Thanksgiving. Though having family gathered together at such a 'family' time of year is so important to me, I've begun to realize that I can't make these folks treat each other well, can't make them want to be together, can't make anyone enjoy the time together... it may be wise to gather the folks that want to be together, that enjoy the time and to exclude the people who really aren't interested.
We've decided we're not going to invite the youngest members of the family, those who have caused drama and upset in the past and particularly this year during other family events. If we eliminate the instigators and agitators, we'll be preserving what's good about family, what makes our time together meaningful and will allow those of us who want to be together enjoy the opportunity.
This doesn't mean that I value family time less, or value time with certain members of the family more than others, it also doesn't mean that in the future these folks won't be included again, it just means that family time doesn't have to be dramatic, doesn't have to end with hurt feelings or upset, that those of us who want to spend time together don't have to endure selfish, crabby behavior.
My hope is that the members of the family who seem to be causing an awful lot of drama this year will realize, by not participating, what they are missing, how nice it really was to gather together and perhaps adjust their attitudes and behaviors.
As much as I love having family together, I realize I don't need to accept behaviors that are hurtful. If some folks are just going to spoil the occasion, why set everyone up for disappointment?