Valentine’s Day, families, & other musings on a windy Wednesday…

I forgot it was Valentine’s Day today. Ouch.

TheBean & I have been on the road most of this week, & just rolled into the driveway last night in time to grab a quick bite, check in with granddaughter Mila, & head to bed.

So when I woke up this morning, I had (literally) NO idea what day of the week it was, let alone the date. To my credit, I DID know it was (probably) still February. Went through my “morning coffee & Lara bar routine,” followed by about 10 minutes of wondering whether I’d taken my vitamins yet (there are 6 involved in the daily routine, & it has become so routine, I forget if I’ve taken them approx. 10 seconds after gulping them all down. I need a system, like an “X” on the calendar. But I digress.)

Anyway, by the time I realized it was Valentine’s Day, it was already 2 hours into the day & I’d interacted with theBean several times already. Gotta say I wasn’t too worried about theBean being hurt or upset at this point, as A) I know she doesn’t really pay attention to dates/holidays; B) she is in as much of a brain-jumble as I am.

But still.

So… several hours into today, I asked myBean, “By the way, will you be my valentine?” And she smiled at me, & said, “Yes.” And gave me a big hug to boot. #winning #HerLoveLanguageIsQualityTime #ActsOfService

At Hillside, we’re in a series about growing in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (loosely based on the principles of the book by the same name by Peter Scazzero. You can get it HERE. ) Last week’s message addressed the significant impact our families (defined as the 3 generations before our birth) can have on us, either positively or negatively.

For example, some negative family traits that could be passed down to us to the point where they become “just how we roll:”

  • abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, etc…) out-of-control anger; addiction/addictive behaviors; unfaithfulness; lying; favoritism; broken relationships;
  • financial instability/extremes; materialism; lack of grace, forgiveness, love; inability to grieve loss/disappointment
  • weird spirituality; lack of emotional connection/stability/balance
  • racism, discrimination; sexism; unhealthy attitudes/practices towards sexuality

You get the picture. Rarely do we do the digging into our own families of origin to look at the positives/negatives of the peoples’ lives that were lived & then passed down to us. We often don’t examine the sinful/destructive behaviors of our people, but rather generalize explanations: “Well, we’re Irish, so we lose our temper & drink a lot,” or, “We’re Italian, so if you ever cross us, you should just expect retaliation. And we never forget.”  Worse, we may never see those destructive habits/life-patterns as something we are capable of seeing transformed by the power of Christ in our lives.

With that said, as a part of my research, I looked for behaviors that could contribute to the creation of ‘healthy family relationships.’ And here’s what I found:

  • The leading contributor to a healthy family? Engaging in patterns of “positive family rituals,” both big (e.g. regular vacations with fun & shared activities – doesn’t have to be expensive, just shared; celebrating birthdays/the significance of each person in the family; how holidays are celebrated “this is the Locke family tradition;) & small, (having a regular “state of the family” check ins; eating a daily meal together, w/o television/screens; incorporating themed meals into regular routine, “Breakfast for Dinner day” etc…)
  • So what do these “positive family rituals” do to help contribute to the creation & maintenance of healthy family relationships? According to research, these positive family rituals build “a shared sense of identity, trust, cohesion, & respect.” 

As I think about this… my kids are all grown & married, with their own families. And yet, theBean & I can still contribute to helping create “positive family rituals” for our kids/grandkids… things like having “family dinner,” special birthday celebrations, hosting grandkid sleepovers (with their own traditions), & the like. It’s never too late to build up our families in whatever season of life they may be.