What is a family? We could attempt to define this within the contours of logic, but it would only be a concept in the mind. And concepts typically don’t compel us to travel vast distances to be with our families on Thanksgiving, or any other day for that matter. There’s something more here.
We have heard the expression, “you’re like a family to me” or “this feels like family.” Is family then an emotion? Perhaps that is coming closer to the truth, but emotions are fleeting. Family resides deeper within us. A bond of sorts.
That sports team locker room, that cast to your favorite TV show, they may refer to each other as a family, and who can say otherwise? They shared moments together and formed a common bond. And yet, they probably don’t all gather together each year to connect once again and be in one another’s presence.
That family you grew up in, whether it was a nuclear family or an adopted family, stays with you for a lifetime. As a human, at one point in time you were too young to care for yourself. If you’re reading this today, at least one person (and often more) cared for you to enable you to reach childhood and adulthood.
The older we get, the more we realize how impermanent all things are. Where we live, who we are friends with, our tastes and interests, how we look in the mirror, this all changes. Sometimes we are riding high, sometimes we are riding low. And in the face of all this change, we look for some sort of permanence, some stability, something familiar. Then you feel the bond of family, the length of time which it has endured in your life, and this feels grounding.
If you’re honest with yourself though, there is a stark reality that goes with this, all things are impermanent in this life. You will come and go, and your family will come and go. However, that shouldn’t scare an individual, but rather make them cherish the time they have together, whether that be a day, a week, a year, a decade and so forth. This is the real deal and should hopefully serve to strip away the nonsense we sometimes get caught up with, or are inundated with by modern society.
A family is comprised of human beings and the bonds they share. This can only be felt within and that is the beautiful thing about family. As long as you are here, you carry this with you. No one can outlaw it; no one can foreclose upon it, and no one can sell you something better.
Nurture it, cherish it, and feel the gratitude within. Family is special and is one of the few things we carry with us throughout this lifetime. After this Thanksgiving weekend, when we go back to our jobs, our homes, and are surrounded by a sea of unfamiliar faces again, we would do well to take a moment, and smile for the family we have.
Note: today’s entry is by a special guest author, my son, Tom. Enjoy his thoughtful and spiritual entry about the meaning of family!