‘Family’ has been a keyword that has defined the last two months which have been unusual and unprecedented in so many ways. Everyone seems to have rediscovered the joys of family. Celebs have shared how they are spending quality time with ‘loved ones’. Noble thoughts have been expressed on the comfort and warmth of family. Wise sayings on the value of family have been mined and brought to light.
Coincidentally even two international days that celebrate family, both proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, have fallen within this period. May 15 was International Family Day, marked every year to stress the importance of family. 1 June is designated as the Global Day of Parents, to recognize that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children and emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children.
As they say, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Which means, whether you like it or not, you are stuck with them! And truth be told, today families in close confinement and forced proximity are perhaps somewhat at the end of the tethers of togetherness.
As the lockdown across the world begin to ease, I can’t resist being a bit irreverent and sharing some random ‘alternate’ thoughts on family from some of my favourite authors.
Fifty years ago Erma Bombeck described what seems to be uncannily accurate today: “No one, not even a man and woman, can endure two weeks of complete togetherness—especially when they are married. Thus being confined with two or three children in an area no larger than a sandbox often has the appeal of being locked in a bus-station rest room over the weekend.”
And the fall out of family in lockdown can have many dimensions!
“Family is just accident…They don’t mean to get on your nerves. They don’t even mean to be your family, they just are”. Marsha Norman
“A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold”. Ogden Nash
“Children aren’t happy without something to ignore, and that’s what parents were created for”. Ogden Nash
“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet, with a few nuts”. Les Dawson
“The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.” Sam Levenson
“Mothers are the necessity of invention.” Bill Watterson
“When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.” George Bernard Shaw
“The family. We are a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s deserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, …and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together”. Erma Bombeck
Love them or hate them, we can’t do without them!
“Mma Ramotswe found it difficult to imagine what it would be like to have no people. There were, she knew, those who had no others in this life, who had no uncles, or aunts, or distant cousins of any degree; people who were just themselves. Many white people were like that, for some unfathomable reason; they did not seem to want to have people and were happy to be just themselves. How lonely they must be — like spacemen deep in space, floating in darkness, but without even that silver, unfurling cord that linked the astronauts to their little metal womb of oxygen and warmth”. Alexander McCall Smith
A family is like an orange, a ball composed of distinct segments, separable yet held together by some intangible but universal bonds. Savour the flavour!