The word family can evoke many different feelings from people. Some light up with stories and details as others try to ignore the thought. I believe that your family is the people God gave you to support you through your time here on earth. The relationships aren’t always perfect but there is an undeniable bond. During the holiday season especially, that pain or joy related to our family situations can be magnified.
You may have seen my family and I on the E! Show, “Married to Jonas.” We are an Italian family that loves as loud as we talk! Growing up, my parents were very diligent in reinforcing a lifestyle that centered on family time. Dinner together every night, family trips and Sunday being reserved as a family day were no exceptions.
My family starts prepping for Christmas as soon as that Thanksgiving turkey is done! There are multiple events that lead up to the big day. We still all decorate my parent’s tree in addition to our own, even if it means watching Danielle turn it into an interior design project. Then there is always a day where we bake together, which really consists of my mom churning out the traditional cookies while I burn every other batch wondering what went wrong. Then you have the annual “men only” Arthur Avenue trip two days before Christmas. If you are male in the Deleasa family it is a rite of passage to eat your way through the bakeries and deli’s of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Your mission is to bring home what is needed for our holiday extravaganza. The Christmas Eve “seven fishes” are made by my father, while Christmas Day prep is all hands on deck. The main event consists of lots of cooking, laughing, and eating!
To continue these traditions takes intentional work. I think the key word is “intentional.” As we grow up we add things into our lives that make us “too busy.” We become pulled in many different directions by the demands of life. That is why I have become such an advocate for family dinner and keeping Sunday as a family day. Yes, all of our extra curricular activities are important. Although, I believe none more important than preserving the connection you have with your family. Simple things like eating dinner together have become luxuries rather than necessities. Between my full time counseling job, writing my blog, and being a wife I can end up feeling stretched to my limit. I have made having dinner with Brian every night a priority and keeping Sunday reserved for my family.
Family can hurt us more than anyone else and that is why sometimes the pain can be so deep. Be intentional with your words. They can carry a tremendous weight or lift someone up. Be intentional with your actions. You are never truly working just for “yourself.” Being a part of a family is realizing your decisions, triumphs, and failures are never yours alone. Your family and those close to you are affected as well.
During this holiday season I would challenge you to reach out beyond your comfort zone. Recognize those who may not have a family gathering to attend. Make room at your family table for them. Seek to comfort those who may be missing someone. Apologize where apologies may be needed. Encourage those who are discouraged. Put intentional time into your family. Do not let “busy” become your excuse for letting this holiday season rush by. Food will be consumed, cards thrown out, and new presents become old. What is lasting is the memories you have along with the relationships you foster. I encourage you to spend time making intentional memories this Christmas season. Be thankful you are blessed to have the opportunity to do so.