On days such as my birthday or Mother’s Day, my children often ask ‘What would you like? What do you need?’
The truth is that I want nothing more than I already have. Another technological gadget or piece of jewellery does not fulfill me in the same way that creating memories with my family does. So, this past Mother’s day, my daughters did exactly what I asked for: they made me something. I heard what sounded like sawing coming from behind the closed door of Chloe’s room in the days leading up to Mother’s day. What was presented to me on the actual day was a very creative and colourful piece of cardboard, cut to specifications and wrapped in bright pink duct tape with tin foil letters cut out to create the word MOM on it. Her DIY project, a template on which to fold T shirts , was not only thoughtful but impressive too. This, along with a handmade card, made me swell with love and pride. My other daughter, Talia, purchased a beautifully bound red book titled ‘I love you Mom. Here’s why….’ and then spent days thinking and writing about all of the things she appreciates about me along with a collection of memories that have created a strong bond between us along the way. I couldn’t have asked for anything more heartfelt or special.
It was with these treasured items of caring and love by my side that I watched footage of the moms and dads, grandparents and children; families who have had to flee from their homes as fire ravaged everything they had worked so hard to create over the years in Fort McMurray. Time and time again I heard many speak about how grateful they were to have, at least, their families by their sides and how their material possessions appeared so trivial compared to knowing that the people they love are safe.
So, it may not have been their finest piece of art but rather their child’s favourite picture, framed on the wall, that they gathered in their haste. They probably grabbed not their expensive camera, but rather a stack of photo albums, reminding them of precious memories over the years, that they packed into their trunks and cars as they left their driveways en route to who knew where. One woman pulled a copy of Robert Munsch’s book, Love You Forever, from the trunk of her car to show a reporter. Apparently her mom had given it to her on a recent visit home.
This got me thinking about what I would grab if I had five minutes to flee my home. Aside from my family and animals, I wondered if I should actually put my most treasured items into a box in the garage or close to the front door, so that if the time ever came, I wouldn’t have to think about which room or cupboard to find them in. I already have all of the videos I have taken of our children and family over more than two decades on dvds in a shoe box. There are too many photo albums to grab, but perhaps I would take the two birthday albums for each of our daughters, which show how they have grown from year to year, along with all of the pictures of their friends at the time.
At a time like this, when the world comes together to help fellow human beings cope with such devastating loss, it’s hard not to take stock of one’s own life and ultimately, to reflect on what’s most important.
Other than my husband`s birthday and Valentine’s Day, when I think of special days during the month of February, I think of Family Day. This year it falls on February 15th. I think of this day as a reminder of how important spending time together as a family. Of course, as with Valentine’s Day, if it’s the only day that you show love and togetherness, your actions may appear somewhat disingenuous. However, if you see this as an opportunity to put in extra effort to show how much you care, then your actions will appear more sincere.
The face of family has changed dramatically over the years. No longer is family conventionally defined by a mother, father and kids. Now, family takes on many shapes.
Not everyone is fortunate to be part of a family in which he or she feels secure, loved and supported. For some, family has been a huge disappointment. While some believe that family members should be revered and respected no matter how they act towards one another, others feel that blood is not always thicker than water and that the friends they have chosen to be part of their inner circle have become symbolic of the family they created themselves.
No matter who you choose to hang out with on Family Day, consider this an opportunity to focus on and show appreciation for one another.
Here are some ideas for getting back to the true meaning of Family Day:
Bring out old photo albums and video tapes or DVDs of years gone by. After going through my father’s belongings after he passed away a few months ago, and coming across old report cards he had kept of my mothers, my plan is to show my kids some of my report cards and school projects from when I was a student. I’m doing this especially because I wish I would have seen my mom’s school records before she passed so that I could have discussed them with her and asked her questions.
Enjoy a nice home-cooked meal together. While eating together, take the opportunity to voice out loud the top three things that you appreciate about one another. Too often we think good thoughts about one another but don’t always express them out loud.
Put extra effort into turning off cell phones, computers and other forms of technology so that you can focus on one another. Play a board game, play charades, or pull out the kids’ markers and create a family masterpiece on a large piece of paper. Maybe trace around each of your hands on a piece of paper as a keepsake.
Whatever you decide to do together, I wish you a fabulous Family Day!