Family is a state of mind

It's Family Day long weekend in Toronto, and it's the day after Valentine's Day.

When I ask my international students about holidays, they often imagine connecting with family. They are often a very long way from home, and they imagine time spent with family as if they live in a greeting-card: parents are wise and siblings are fun and the world is a safe place.

My grandson is growing up in that kind of a family. His parents are smart and kind and love him with all their being. He is surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who play with him and wonder at him and want the best for him. He is blessed.

People say that you can choose family, but I wonder. I think family are the people we do not get to choose. They are the people who show up and who make us admit, more often than not, that being human is very different than being perfect. Family sometimes gives us a wonderful boost (which we did not deserve) and sometimes are the crabs in the bucket, clawing at us as we climb.

So when I write "family is a state of mind" I mean on one hand, that sometimes people who are not born into our families give us that wonderful sense of safety and support we think of as 'family'. And we can celebrate that.

And I mean on the other hand, that family is a choice you make about what to do with the people who land in your life, the people you do not choose but who are part of your experience. Even children make choices about what to accept and what to dream. As an adult, you have more choices. You can relive be broken or you can look forward. You will be, in the end, what you make of yourself.

You don't choose family. But you do choose what they get to mean in your life.

Happy Family Day.


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