It’s BC Family Day long weekend this weekend. Roll out the newspaper articles about events for families. Will you strike out to some of the venues this weekend? They do sound enticing. I’ve always wondered how many British Columbians actually do go around to BC Family Day weekend events. Or do they simply take advantage of an extra day to sleep in and/or take it easy?
For years we’ve heard that January and February are particularly difficult months for everyone. After the buzz of Christmas, New Years and party season, for most of us in the northern hemisphere we settle in to a few months of challenging weather, less sun (at least here in BC) and no long weekends. Dropping a long weekend in February helps to take off the edge. Most of us don’t have access to holidays in the sun or cheap seats on airlines related to our jobs.
The BC Family Day long weekend was created after I registered this site. It strikes me that people might stumble across BCFamily.ca while looking for information about this day. This is a good opportunity for me to explain about my concept of family and how I pitch my site content when I share it here and link to it on other social media sites.
If you’re a frequent Facebook user, you’ve probably seen the picture quotes circulated about cousins. Cousins, we’re told, are the first people we have as friends and understand our families the best. Meanwhile friends are the family that we make for ourselves. Growing up I rarely saw members of my extended family. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I had to meet them from time to time but I think we’d all agree that we don’t know each other as well as they know their other extended family members. For one section of my family we don’t attend each others significant life event celebrations and, in general, I don’t see them very often – if at all. I do agree that our friends can be the families we make for ourselves; however, I am also sensitive to the fact that sometimes people are estranged from their families and this statement holds a deeper meaning for them. I have a large extended family who I value and appreciate (although rarely see) and I ALSO have a family of friends who live around the world. Together my family members and friends form my concept of family.
Since I consider friends to be part of my concept of family, I should explain about what friendship means to me. Not so long ago I was writing about the social media concepts of reach and engagement in a status update when I was challenged to share my concept of friendship. Some people struggle in their attempts to make friends face-to-face in their communities and will disappear from social media as they grapple with the idea of what a “friend” is. This question can be a hot topic online. I attended 15 schools and moved around until I was well into my 30s. In response to the idea that “it depends on your idea about friendships”, I explained that in the pre-Internet era it took a lot of effort to maintain strong links with friends when the strings that bind were stretched around the world. I certainly don’t consider people I’ve never met who have connected to my Twitter or Fancy accounts to be friends. (Although research shows – and it has been my experience – that the network of relationships that you can create online can be rewarding.) It would be scary to think that someone might have that understanding about me! For some reason my inclusive approach towards friendships came across as an elitist statement and the person who posed the question cut connections to my profile page. “Why”, I growled to my husband, “did I extend so much kindness and welcome to this person for so many years?”.
Friendship is like a gift. You make a contribution but there are no guarantees about what you will receive in return. There isn’t even a guarantee that the person in question will see what you are offering as nothing more than an “acquaintance” connection. I will argue, hands down, that I must surely be the only person in the world who has been “unfriended” on Facebook because of my perspective on friendships.
Since my childhood I have made friends around the world – bachelors/bachelorettes, couples and families – who have become like family do me. My social highlights are always the times when I have a chance to see friends I rarely see who live locally or half way around the world.
One aspect of media and blog coverage concerning families influences the way I share content online. I feel that we focus too much on the nuclear family in media and blog stories. What of the other people in a family’s life who bring joy and deeper meaning into their home? What about friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents, for example? I was an aunty for 9 years before my children were born. I was and remain a dedicated and keen aunty and I know many others who feel the same way. I also see that in my own children’s lives there are biological aunties and aunties by adoption. Some of the most involved women and men in their lives are both aunties and uncles by adoption. There are friends who show a lot of care and consideration for our family.
Most – although not all of us – are born into some kind of supportive family structure. Hopefully this support network was a happy experience and continues to be a positive part of our lives. Social media has helped us to share information about ourselves and allow family members to keep up with our lives in ways that old style letters and more recent emails and photo album shares couldn’t do as well. However nothing can replace face-to-face time or a phone/video call. I’m not sure that I will be attending BC Family day events this weekend. Since it’s nippy but oh so sunny, my priority is to just bundle up east of BC style and get outside. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to meet up with family members. (Although I will ask.) Whatever happens I’m grateful to have such a large network of family members and friends who show care and consideration towards my family and me.
Image: By a 7 year old friend who lives in the Lower Mainland.
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Here’s a song we’ve been enjoying lately at our home that is about family time: