I have never been a real big proponent of forced family gatherings. You know the kind where you get together with your once or twice a year relatives- more as a compulsory act than one borne out of a mutual friendship or common interests. I get it; there are certain traditions we feel compelled to uphold primarily because Hallmark and other companies have effectively created compelling commercial campaigns that prey on our basest of vulnerabilities and convince us to emotionally subscribe to their message and ultimately inform our holiday planning decisions. The real-bottom line; these companies are banking their first quarter earnings on getting us the public to fork over wads of cash to facilitate these fabricated family gatherings.
But here’s the thing- when you really think about what holidays are, they are a time to reflect on your blessings, express your gratitude and surround yourself with the people who are intimately tied into all those aspects of your life- do your distant relatives come to mind? Is your uncle, who has worn the same tweed jacket the past five years, and brought along his alcoholic common-law wife- really a person who contributes to your happiness or has anything to do with you on even a monthly basis? If the answer is a resounding no- then I say it’s time you celebrate the holiday on your own terms. I believe it’s high time you don’t allow yourself to succumb to the pressures of creating a family feast for people who may share a bloodline with you- but have little else and /or next to nothing to do with who you are, who you’ve become and who you aspire to be.
This Memorial Day weekend (and holiday season) teach your kids, that family is not where you come from- but who you’ve become and who you choose to bring into your life. Family is who you can call when your kid is running a fever, and drop off your other kid at their house with little or no notice so that you can see a doctor. Family is the people from who you draw your strength and, on a daily basis, bless your life with their presence and love. In my humble opinion, creating these traditions and modeling these behaviors for your children, are what celebrations truly ought to be about.
Which is why I LOVED watching Grace and Frankie, Netflix’s new funny and fearless original comedy featuring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, which is a perfect example of how today’s families can shift, rearrange and blend in unexpected ways. When Grace and Frankie’s husbands leave them after 20 years of marriage—to be with each other—the women find themselves facing a change that they never expected, but they shift their perspective to get through it together with the support of their new blended family and, of course, a sense of humor.
The once traditional “nuclear” family has evolved into a kaleidoscope of possibilities—start with parents (maybe two dads, a single mom, or a stay at home dad…), add a dash of half/step/full/adopted siblings, a side of grandparents, a pinch of aunts, uncles, cousins, a splash of pets, topped off with close friends (and all the combinations thereof). Now you’ve got a modern family — each uniquely quirky — yet picture perfect in its own way. So what is it about your modern family that you wouldn’t trade for anything in the world? Explore the things that make other families unique by watching one of the titles below — whether it’s:
Then, this Memorial Day Weekend ask your kids ( and yourself) what it is that makes your family special. After all, family is what you make it.
This post is part of my ongoing ambassadorship with Netflix as a member of their #StreamTeam