No matter where you’re from and whatever background you might have, a family is probably the best gift you’ll ever get. Growing in a big family, I always assumed that all families are big, supportive, and happy. On my various journeys across the world, I got to meet many families. Some were similar to my own, big with plenty of siblings, uncles, and cousins. Others were relatively small, while others were families of non-blood relatives but families, nonetheless. Even though all these families were significantly different, they had one thing in common. They were all happy and supportive of each other in their own way.
Although I experienced and met many people over the years, the only family that I genuinely feel part of until today is my friend’s family in China. While I visited the family in Liuzhou, I had a unique experience of a festive welcoming. A dinner party was organized that apparently was not enough, so another one was needed. I spend in total three days in Liuzhou, and two of the nights I was there, we had dinner parties for the whole family (or part of the family).
My friend’s family is native to a different city and province but moved when their children were young. For this reason, their family is divided into different parts of China. When they hosted me to their home, my friend’s parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins had a dinner party to welcome me to their city and home. Unfortunately, I cannot speak Chinese, I could only say a few phrases that my friend taught me, and they couldn’t speak English. Yet, we could communicate and had a good time with laughter and delicious food.
The most exciting and unique moment during the dinner party was how everyone wanted to have a cheers “ceremony” with me. And when I say everyone, I mean the elders, her father, two uncles and her aunt. We used a shot glass with beer, and while standing up, we would be clinking our glasses and down the whole beer. It was funny and entertaining how they found it impressive that I drunk the entire beer the first time, and suddenly all the elders wanted to have a go with me. They seemed so exciting, and I didn’t know why until my friend subtly told me I don’t have to drink all the beer if I didn’t want to. But from my point of view (or culture) it seemed rude to not drink it.
After having intimate ceremonies, good food, and more drinks, the whole atmosphere turned very festive and cheerful. My friend explained to me that the family doesn’t often gather unless there is a special occasion. Frankly, all families like my own only gave dinner parties or other gatherings only on special events and anniversaries. After all, nowadays we can get busy and hectic that we often forget to provide some time for our families.
While I was at the dinner party, I could tell everyone was having a great time. Since I was going to be there only for another two days, they decided to have another dinner party the night before my departure. It was one more day of beautiful memories with a family that became my own. Everyone was happy and excited to have a day off with family.
You may be in a family of two or fifty, or maybe you’re in a family of selective people that you call your own. No matter what your family’s composition is, you’re bound to have these fond memories with them that you’ll always treasure. Family is sacred and should be appreciated. I often ask myself why families ever need to gather at only certain events. True enough, life can be busy and sometimes overwhelming. Still, sometimes that is only an excuse to avoid obligations or even people.
The mistakes that families regularly do is judge, criticize, and compare. The constant rivalries created since childhood can become an obstacle to families wanting to be together. Society itself is a competitive arena with the strongest to always top the podium. Economy and technology have created a culture that always creates comparisons amongst family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Yet, the family will always be family, and when the entire family gets-together, undoubtedly, they start reminiscing fond long-forgotten memories.
Sometimes, we should take a step back and simply remember who we are and where we come from. The family will always be there for us, in our worst and in our best. So, don’t hesitate, make that call and go to that gathering. Just do it.