Google ‘family gatherings’ and you’ll find pages of advice on how to survive or endure a ‘get together’ with our nearest and dearest. Here, Dominique reflects on why for her, a family gathering is something to celebrate.
Very recently, my ‘little brother’ turned 40 and invited his family to share this special day with him at a place that he holds very dear.
Our family is not exactly known for throwing parties and I remember our Dad’s profound refusal to celebrate his 70th with the remark “what is there to celebrate turning old” and booking himself and his other half on a trip to Morocco instead. I remember feeling quite sad at the time but also deep down recognising what sat behind his decision.
A lot has happened in our family since then that has given me cause to reflect, our mum having undergone a very serious operation for one. With my brother’s party having now passed (it was an amazing event) and with me in the middle of planning the next family gathering (my daughter’s first Holy Communion) I find myself reflecting on the topic of ‘Family Gatherings’ once again and the reasons why we seem to love them and loathe them in equal measure.
For me personally, it really comes down to the following:
Time is a very precious commodity. How often do we stop in our tracks and take time out to get together with our family and celebrate all those things that bond us together (in the good and in the bad)? We make time for our kids, partners, friends but our family…?
As with any relationships, families need love and nurturing but quite often we tend to take them for granted. Family relations can be a fragile thing and it is often just easier to ‘sit them out’ instead of investing the time and energy it takes to get to the bottom of things.
What goes down in memory lane? One of my brother’s birthday presents was an album containing pictures spanning the best part of 30 years of his life. We looked through it together and had the most amazing time, reflecting over all those memories and events we have shared in our lives.
Getting together as a family comes no doubt with a bucket of challenges, however, equally it comes with an opportunity to cherish the old memories that bind us together, to shape new memories that forge the future. It’s an opportunity to stop for a day or two in our tracks and hold time still. Perhaps this is the greatest gift of all, to hold time still for just one precious moment.