Friday, December 23, 2011

A Perfect Family: Another Myth Dispelled

This afternoon, one of our neighbors stopped by to deliver goodies to us.  She gushed about how much she loves having us carol to her each December.  She said that she wished her (grown) kids could be there when we sing on her doorstep, so they "could know how perfect families are." Um, thanks for the compliment, but we aren't perfect.

We do have family traditions that I am pleased with.  We have family home evening (FHE) every week, for instance.  I would be lying if I said that every FHE is a model of domestic living, though.  We are human, and sometimes the lesson or activity doesn't quite go over the way we would hope.  One joke in the Mormon community is that family home evening is the only argument that begins and ends with prayer. 

Another less-than-stellar moment occurred on vacation.  We had taken a red-eye flight to Boston.  We arrived in the morning, and in an attempt to adjust to eastern time, we stayed awake and started walking along the Boston Trail.  At one point on our walk, I stopped the family to say, in what was supposed to be a more patient voice than it actually was, "We are here on vacation to have fun! Stop arguing and be happy!" Oh, yes, I think I was mistaken for June Cleaver that day.  Not really. 

I am flattered that one of our family traditions brings joy to others, but I am not at all comfortable with the thought that somehow another family would somehow feel inferior, just because our tradition is not one in which they participate. 

If I took my neighbor to the proverbial family "wreck" room, instead of the literal one I mentioned in this post, she would find that we have had our share of challenges.  I never would have imagined some of the turns we've had in the past (nearly) 25 years.  Each challenge has molded me into who I am today.  I have learned so much, and one lesson I've learned is the importance of being patient with each other. 

I imagine that her family has some traditions or strengths that are worthy of emulation which we haven't adopted.  There are so many great ideas, habits, and traditions!  In retrospect, I wish I had kept the kids' photo scrapbooks up-to-date.  Instead, I am going to have to wade through piles of photos and try to fill in the past ten years or so.  I wish I had been more patient and less tired at the end of the day.  I wish I could have come up with a great cooking/cleaning/organizing schedule and stuck with it!

Guess what?  There will always be more good ideas than can possibly be completed in one lifetime.  We're going to make mistakes, and we're going to omit doing some things that others seem to do effortlessly.  It's OK! 

My neighbor would probably be surprised (or relieved) to know that we have various levels of enthusiasm with our family members regarding caroling.  However, everyone in the family knows that caroling is just something we do.  In the end, more good memories than bad come from it (much like family home evening).  And really, isn't that what we want in our families? 

The perfect family?  No, but it's MY family, and I love it!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for each member of my imperfect family, and thanks for each person's patience with imperfect me!

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