We love them unquestionably, we’d walk on hot coals to make sure they are ok and seriously consider evil deeds against anyone who threatened them. Why then do some of us (i.e., me) find it so challenging to spend any length of time with our families? Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time when we all hang out but I’m always happy to grab an hour on my own and to eventually escape the family hold. Logically I know that because I live thousands of kilometers away from them and only see them every few years, that by default I rely on my close friends to be that family on a day to day basis - (big up and thanks to all my lovely friends for being family). Things that I may have discussed with my parents or my sister if we lived in the same country now get discussed and debated with girlfriends. It’s been like that for the past 21 years since I flew the coop and went off to university, it’s probably not going to change now. But somehow when we see each other, we all have an expectation that because we are family we have the same kinds of friendships with each other than we do with our friends who we see much more regularly. Doesn’t make sense when you think about it does it? On the other hand I also know that what better way to make me crazy than to hold up a plethora of mirrors reflecting my every best and worst trait and ask me to spend a couple of weeks with those mirrors. Because if nothing else we are all indeed a genetic and sociological reflection of our families, maybe not entirely but enough to make me nervous. And whilst it’s great to have someone say how lovely it is that you are clever like this aunt or sporty like that uncle, it’s a bit of a shock to look and recognize the negative traits which you know you have inherited as well.
So I can’t help but ask myself what the lesson is here. I certainly feel grateful for all the incredible qualities I did inherit. Those blue eyes which are ever so boring at home are far more exotic where I live now. If it wasn’t for my parent’s love of travel I’d probably still be sitting on my butt in Australia. Being made to read all those Pollyanna books as a child and being forced to play the glad game has given me the gift of gratitude and the ability to turn almost any negative situation into a positive one. My uncles love of geneology explains my interest in different cultures and my aunt’s work at the National Library explains my ferocious reading habit. But of course I also have the pleasure of understanding why I am many things that I don’t want to be. So in the spirit of Pollyanna, today I choose to be glad that I can see my faults, that I have a greater understanding of why I have developed some of them and that I have the power to change the way I behave and become a better person. And I have my family to thank for that.