You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. It’s a saying we’ve all heard, but what does it really mean? Well to me it means that whether your family is completely dysfunctional or picture perfect, they’re still your family and nothing can change that. So you have to accept what you’ve got and more importantly, learn to love what you’ve got, no matter what.
At times that may seems difficult, especially if your family is on par with Clark Griswold’s family. But even Clark knows the importance of family sticking together, no matter what kind of chaos is ensuing:
That’s right, even if your grandfather burns down your perfect Christmas tree and your entire holiday celebration is more like a circus gone horribly wrong, it’s still important to love your family for the crazy people they are and stay by their side through thick and thin.
But during this stage in our lives when we’re trying to make a life for ourselves and be independent, that can be hard. There’s a quote from One Tree Hill that goes:
“Much as some of us fight it, our parents have a mystical hold over us, the power to affect our thoughts and emotions the way only they can. It’s a bond that changes over time, but doesn’t diminish, even if they’re half a world away, or in another world entirely. It’s a power we never fully understand. We’re left only to wonder that when our time comes, what kind of hold will we have on our children?”
I think this encapsulates what most of us feel about our parents and our family as a whole. So how do we balance that feeling with our desire to be our own person and make our own choices? There’s no easy answer to that, and I would think that it’s different for everyone (dependent on their own situation), but it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, you should love your family for what they are and learn from your experiences with your family.
And that’s true whether your family is ideal or not. I think many of us would describe our families as dysfunctional, and maybe even wish for more stability. But in reality there is rarely such thing as a perfectly stable family. So love your family for all the good – the meals you share together, the vacations you take, the good talks you have, and even the times when you think everyone was slipped some crazy pills.
And for everything that isn’t good in your family, learn from it. As the One Tree Hill quote says, we wonder what kind of hold we will have on our own children. We can learn from our families how to maintain our own. The point is that even if there are things about our families that we just can’t stand, it doesn’t mean we should try to escape them or erase them from our mind. Instead, we should learn from it as we move forward with our lives.
Always hold onto your experiences with your family – both the good and the bad – because, whether we like it or not, it’s what shapes us. The family is such a powerful entity. It effects the kind of person we become, and therefore, part of embracing ourselves is embracing our family.
Yes, embrace them, even when we have to hike out to the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter to find the perfect Christmas tree: