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Appreciating family through the seasons

Every now and then I wish I could stop time and keep things as they are, just hold on to everyone I love at this point in our lives.

It’s funny, I remember what seemed like endless Christmases during my teens and early 20s, when it felt like it would always be the same people doing the old same things over turkey and stockings. At the time, it felt like a rut. Would someone not have a kid or something to switch things up and add a little excitement to the occasion?

Now those days seem long ago. I thought my Uncle Alan, who was always a big part of these events, playing Santa for the kiddies and popping the champagne for mimosas on Christmas morning, would always be around. Even when I wanted things to change, I didn’t really want them to change. My uncle passed away a year and a half ago now, and in this weird time warp brought on by the pandemic – when we often haven’t been able to be with those we love or even attend a funeral – it’s been hard to wrap my mind around it.

My parents are getting older. They live a plane ride away and while I do (usually) get to see them two or three times a year, I’m more and more conscious of holding the time at bay when we do get together – that we get a chance to say the things that really need to be said, ask the questions that I have always wanted to ask, without putting some weird awkward pressure on our conversations.

When I was a teen, and one of my grandmothers would come over from England for a couple of weeks, I remember a lot of deep sighing and eye rolling over needing to spend time together. Now, I’m anxious that my son, who is 14, appreciate his time with his grandparents, learn to love them despite their faults, and come to understand how fleeting our time together really is. And I totally get what it’s like to be that eye-rolling, deep-sighing teenager!

My father-in-law was a very philosophical man. I loved his appreciation for learning and attempts to understand the deeper meaning of life. He was a great lover of Joseph Campbell. In fact, he had a second-hand copy of A Joseph Campbell Companion that he referred to often and when asked about it, urged me to get a copy of The Power of Myth, a series of conversations between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

Joseph Campbell was a great proponent of the ancient wisdom believed to be spoken by Jesus: “The kingdom of heaven is upon the earth, but men cannot see it.” What he meant is that heaven is right here and now, if we choose to see it – it’s up to us to be present to the beauty that is in front of us, in this moment.

This helps me understand how we can move through these transitions and appreciate all of the people we love at every stage of life. We can choose to turn away from the drama or the boredom or the frustration we feel with family at any given time and show up fully present for what is unfolding in front of us. There is beauty in all of it.

We are all flawed and have been hurt in one way or another during our lives. This manifests in our personality as young people and stays with us in some form until the end of our lives. As we get older, it gets a little easier to have compassion for ourselves as we move through life, and for all our fellow journeyers along the way. And there are practices that help us pause and breathe, so we can make more conscious decisions for ourselves.

Life is magical at every age. And when we forget that fact, we can find ways to remember the magic. We can choose to love life and be kind to ourselves and our family members through this journey and find our own version of heaven in the short time we are here.

Sherie Hodds

Sherie Hodds is a ChangeMaker Nation Coach. She has spent more than 15 years working with people and businesses to develop and implement their strategies, helping to shape and share the great stories being produced at home and around the world.

I did a lot of exploring, connecting and training to create work I love, and bring more joy to more people in more organizations. I can’t tell you how great it is to do this work now, and witness a stuck team break through, a quiet vision living loud, a start-up successfully scale-up and a client realize their potential. I’m telling you – you’ve got what you need. Let’s get to work.

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