As I was drying my hair this morning I actually took a look at myself; a good long look in my eyes. I saw the traits of my family. A melting pot of resemblances. It is the holidays. A time to reflect and give thanks. The truth is, I think about my family and judge, judge, judge. I think of hurts, words that should have gone unsaid and open wounds. I think of the saying "you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family" it occurred to me today...that is by design. We are placed into our family dynamic (dysfunctional as it may be) for a reason. These people are there to shape and mold our being. They are the fiber of our make up. From grandparents, aunts, cousins, uncles, moms and dads. It's easy to look on the outside and see the similarities...but if I take a hard look at the inside the resemblances are there too. From simple things like my laugh to the heavy heartedness of a life lead astray.
The holiday season usually jogs my memory bank of times tucked way back in the recesses of my mind. Memories of family Thanksgivings at my Grandparent's, Christmas Dinners, and the excitement of stockings and presents. Today, my family is spread all over the US from AZ to VA from MI to FL. The holidays are not what they used to be. They don't bring that tingle in my soul or the excitement of things to come. We moved to Florida almost 10 years ago. At the time it was the right thing to do. John and I needed a chance to make our own way. Where I come from people generally don't move too far away from their family. To my point, both sets of my grandparents lived in the same town I grew up in and the rest of the fam was not but an hour away. It was refreshing to have a new life in Florida. When the holidays came around those first few years I would cry but in a way I was relieved. Now I have my own daughter and the longing of the past is creeping up more and more. I'm sad she will not know holidays as I did. I am sad she will not know her family like I did. But Florida is a choice. We have made our way and we have made so many amazing friends who have become our family. While we do not look the same, our hearts are the same. That's the holiday's Ashley will know.
This holiday season is starting to feel differently. There is a recurrence of the feeling; the word: grace. Both sides of my immediate family are splintered. Both for different reasons. The heartache for me is the same. For years these feuds or sicknesses have prevailed. No solution, no one working on a solution. No grace for anyone. No peace. While we all continue on with our day to day lives I imagine the sadness lingers. The loss of family whether we all care to admit it or not is an open wound. Given the chance I think we would all do something different. But the past is what it is....the future however has the opportunity for a chance; a change. The saying is right you can't pick your family. Knowing what I know today, taking away the judgement, taking away the pain, I wouldn't pick anyone differently. I am who I am today, my laugh, my personality, my nose, my confidence, my insecurities, the entire package, because of each of them. They are the ones who I need in my life. Good or bad (depending on how you look at it) God put them in my path as MY family, blood, for a reason. The same blood that courses through their veins is my blood. You can pick your friends and that is an amazing opportunity.
As you sit around your holiday tables this season...try not to roll your eyes. Try not to judge. Try to look at each person around you as God's divine choosing for YOU and YOU for them.
God Bless you this Christmas Season. Best of luck to make your way through this crazy time of year. Maybe, just maybe, this is the season for change. But, maybe the change is within you.