Ah, yes. The sweet word that brings about an instant cringe slash eye-roll, but in the same moment equally brings an all-knowing smile.
You can laugh all you want at the title of this post – but the reality of the Griswald family [from all of the “Vacation” movies, for those of you that have been living under a rock], and the reason that they make us laugh so hard, is that they are us. They are the typical American family.
Okay, maybe not TOTALLY typical, but they are pretty close. A father who just wants to do right by his family, and tries to hide his shortcomings from his loved ones; a wife who adores him because she knows all his secrets and loves him regardless; a son and a daughter who are embarrassed by their parents as equally as they love them [throw in a little standard sibling rivalry and normal family drama – and – VOILA! – Familia Americana 101].
The stress here is family. I know that in this day and age, a family cannot just be described or defined by blood. To some of us, family is our closest friends, or even our colleagues. For others, we do not accept anyone as family except for our pets. The beauty of today is that there is no person or no law that defines what a family truly is.
All we know, inherently as humans, is that family is important. Deep down, every single one of us knows that we cannot survive without some version of family.
True, there are some out there that prefer the company of a book rather than any life form, but does that not count as well? Anything that brings you comfort or makes you feel anything but alone – THAT is family.
I realized recently [albeit, almost too late in my little, short life] how important having something or someone to call family truly is. They will always have your back, no matter what. And only the people who are TRULY your family will. The people who you THINK are family, and then turn your back on you when the going gets rough – well, they are nothing but cowards. They are fair-weather-family.. People who only exist to feed off of you until you can no longer provide for them. The people that stick by your side through thick and through thin – they are your family. And don’t ever forget that.
My point of titling this the Griswalds [aside from making the all-too-familiar familial comparison], was to point out that despite their complete disfunction as a family, they are truly happy and they always manage to enjoy themselves or come together. And to emphasize that family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood, human, or even alive, to that point. Family is what makes us feel a part of something and gives us a silent strength that we may not have discovered on our own.
Don’t take the people in your life that equal family for granted. Do what you can to appreciate them and thank them at every turn. They may not be blood, nor may they be alive; but once something has been banished from your life, it is extremely hard to get it back.
In short, be appreciative. Love who and what is important to you, and never hesitate to hide it. If there’s one thing that this planet needs, it’s more love – more emotion and appreciation. More openness and less shyness.
Unless your life is at risk [or, if your life is at risk and you don’t care], then there really is no reason to hide how you feel. Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to be honest and open. You have absolutely nothing to lose.