Defining family in today’s world is a ‘hot topic’ in some circles.
I’m defining the family as they have for centuries with a husband and a wife, their children and posterity, their ancestors and extended family. I know that there are many factors that may change the mix in the family - death, remarriage, never married, divorce, adoption, no children, etc. The fact remains, even after the mix, that everyone has family.
What a blessing families are when nurturing relationships are a priority. Developing good family relationships takes work, sacrifice, unselfishness, love and a great deal of time. I can’t tell you how many times my New Year’s resolution has been to remember every family member’s birthday (including extended family) for the year with a card or a call or a gift. I have failed every year. But I am determined before I die, that I will accomplish that resolution.
I love my family and with that love comes vulnerability. Is it worth it? Yes, a thousand times, yes. The nurturing that comes from some family members makes up for the lack from others. The ‘perfect’ family does not exist and yet that is not a reason to give up hope on making it just a little better. Dr. James D. MacArthur teaches the principle of the scale of ‘one to ten’. You can use this principle in every aspect of your life. I am using family relationships as the example for our purposes here.
If ‘one’ is the worst and ‘ten’ is the best, think about what ‘number’ your family relationships would be. Dr. MacArthur teaches that you can’t expect to move from a ‘two’ to a ‘ten’ overnight. You can, however, make choices that could make that ‘two’ turn into a ‘two and a half’ or a ‘three’ in a very short time. And then make choices to make it better than the ‘two and a half’ or ‘three’ and so forth.
We all have busy lives. Family members live near and far. We share a history and a bond….and our choices either strengthen or weaken the family. I have come up with some ideas that you might want to implement that will strengthen and nurture your family.
Create a calendar - Use PAF, Calendar Creator, or some other software. Add birthdays, anniversaries, pictures (you may want to even include ancestors).
Create a family newsletter - Publish monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually. Items to include: Upcoming events, birthdays, anniversaries, awards received by family members, pictures, recipes, family historical moments, words of wisdom from older family members, etc.
Create a Christmas letter - Annually. Update extended family on your doings for the year.
Create a family website – (do a google search “family web site”+free)
Write a “Round Robin Letter” - Email or Snail mail. One person begins the letter and sends it to another household of the family. That family reads and adds to the letter and sends it to the next household….this continues until it returns to original sender where only the part of the letter everyone has read is then deleted and then is continued to be added to and sent forth again.
Annual Gathering - A day or more than one day. Choose a location that will accommodate all who would attend. Potluck or have catered. Share genealogical research. Share stories. Catch up with each other’s lives. Take pictures…lots of them.
Annual Camping Trip - Music, Games, Campfires, Stories, Crafts, Food, Pictures, Family flag, Skits, Talent show, Fishing, Hiking, Swimming, Service project. This can be a time where the older members of the family can really shine. Make it wonderful for the kids.
Enjoy creating the ties in your family that will bless each one.