Family Relationships: A delicate balance

I used to think I wasn’t really a family person.  Then one day I had a change of heart and thought to myself, “From this day onward, I am going to put family first.”  But then reality set in after realizing how exhausting it is to force “closeness” with people it’s not natural to, so I then accepted that I’m not a big “family person”.  But before anyone starts to think that means I don’t care about my family, let me elaborate.

I love my dad.  I love my brother.  I love my uncle and I love my late grandparents, even in death.  But just because I love and care for these people doesn’t mean we HAVE to have close relationships or talk for 37 minutes on the phone every Sunday starting at 5:30 PM PST.  I don’t really consider the relationships I have with my family to coincide with the textbook “close” family, and that’s why I’ve come to my conclusion.  We don’t spring random visits on one another and just waltz in through the side door to help ourselves to whatever sugary carbonated drink is to be had in relative X’s fridge, or pop in on relative Y to watch Dr. Who while we knit little Timmy his 14th pair of polyester socks on a regular (or any) basis.  Instead, we make the most of the contact we do have.

And this is where the inspiration for this post comes into play.  On my way home from work this morning, I stopped to get my mail only to find a big, thick, red envelope addressed to me.  A holiday card from my uncle, I instantly morphed back into being a 5 year old and couldn’t wait the whopping 3 minutes to get home before opening the card.  Once I made it into my car, I tore open the envelope to reveal a simple card that, to many may seem cookie cutter, but to me it strummed my heartstrings.

A niece who’s warm and loving makes the world a happier place…

…Wishing you the wonderful Christmas you deserve, because you mean so much and always will.

Love Always,

Uncle Brent & Kollette

I almost lost the $20 bill that fell out of the card, being that I was more interested in what he -hand wrote- inside.  It’s the little things in life that can make the biggest impact, or in this case illustrate a much bigger point.  I know that there was actually some thought that went into picking out this holiday card, and the message it carries is so much bigger and heartwarming than it reads on the surface.  My uncle and I may not be “close” but he is dear to me, just as I know I am to him and always will.

The same thing goes for the relationships I have with other family members.  My dad and I only communicate MAYBE once or twice a week, sometimes more if something significant is happening in either of our lives at the moment.  My brother and I exchange texts and the even more occasional phone call about every other month.  Again, it’s generally when something new or interesting is going on in either of our lives and we feel the need to share it.  In a way I prefer it this way because then I don’t have to sort through the “filler” crap that happens every day to get to the events of substance worth committing to memory.  This way, they do it for me!  Maybe it’s lazy.  I find it efficient.  It also gives me the added knowledge that if they’re coming to me with a problem, there is a high probability that they have either already made multiple attempts to resolve whatever issue there is and failed, or they’ve brainstormed some options and want my input on which to use.  I hate it when people come up and put their problems on you to solve for them.  I love knowing that my input is actually appreciated and considered when sought out; I wouldn’t be too happy to find out I wasted my own thoughts and time to come up with possible solutions just as “filler” crap to fill up their day.

I’m guilty of not always returning my brother’s phone calls or texts from time to time.

I’m guilty of not always disclosing the -whole- story to my dad when we talk about what’s going in life.

However, that being said, where I fail seems to balance where I excel; somehow the information I find relevant and choose to share is just the right amount to keep everyone happy and up to date with where we all want each other to be:

Close, but not too close.  Just right.

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