There is perhaps no better gauge of who you are and where you are in life than spending time with your family.
Time with parents, brothers and sisters certainly falls into this category but, so too, does time with aunts, uncles, cousins and longtime friends who fit right in with the family.
There is no "trying to be different," and most certainly no "playing it cool." Family and those close enough to be called family know you inside and out, no matter how old you get or how much you think you've changed.
I can see how some folks might not like this level of familiarity but, for me, there's nothing better.
At work and in other social situations, we check ourselves, we watch what we say. We mince words and parse thoughts all in the name of social graces and diplomacy.
|Amongst close friends, even bad hair is forgiven.|
We have to. If I was completely honest with every client, I'd be out of a job in short order. Also, as my wife can attest, not every thought that crosses my mind bears mentioning.
But, when you're with family, the filter is lifted. Fear of offending others is replaced with fear of open ridicule in the event that what you say is ill-conceived or just foolish. If you do say something dumb with family, you aren't fired, you aren't suspended or banned from the bar.
You are, justifiably, called an idiot and life moves on.
Laughing and poking fun at and being made fun of, with close friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and parents after my grandfather's funeral, I was struck by our good fortune.
To have an entire family that enjoys getting together and views family gatherings as something to be enjoyed, not dreaded is a truly special thing.
But, I don't think it's a rare thing.
I meet more people who tell me they're close with their family than not.
As you get older you realize more and more that you're not perfect and that realization expands to include your nearest and dearest. They aren't perfect either. The beauty of that, of course, is everyone you love and who loves you is on the same page with this.
The freedom to be imperfect is freedom indeed. And, when the only pressure you have is the pressure to be yourself, well, that's a great thing too.
The downside for many, including me, is that opportunities to spend time with family seem to shrink as the years go by. It's an oft-repeated sentiment that weddings and funerals become the only occasions for families and loved ones to get together.
|Pictured: Fun, minus a couple cousins.|
Spending time with my cousins last weekend, we laughed a lot and caught up on life. I couldn't help but think, "why don't we do this more?"
The day after my grandfather's funeral, my mom hung out with some of her cousins and had a "a great time." So, why don't we do this more?
For some reason, there's always something else more important going on that prevents such gatherings. Geography and distance frequently prevent the fun. Life, it would seem, gets in the way of life.
I'm fortunate that my wife too, has extended family with whom she enjoys spending time. So, as our little guy gets older, it's our goal that our little guy sees his parents not just place a priority on family, but act on it.
Easier said than done, I know. But, when it comes time to make the decision about getting together, I'll need to remember just how much fun it is to have a big family and close friends that enjoy getting together, sharing laughs and keeping one another in check.