Friday, November 28, 2008

Spending time with your other family.

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

Yesterday I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my other family. No, I am not talking about my in-laws. More extended. No, not cousins. Think bigger. Hubby and I signed up to volunteer at our Community Thanksgiving Dinner. 3,500 citizens of the area we live in; neighbors, business owners, elderly, homeless, complete strangers. How can all these people be family? I say, how can they not be?

We have lived in times of self-fulfillment -indulgence for far too long. Always looking out for No. 1. Me, me, me! Exceedingly wanting more stuff to fulfill our lives and being none the happier for getting it. Throughout this time of gratuitous consumption we have lost sight of what really defines us. It is not the job you have, how much money you make, the size of your house, or car you drive. Connections. The personal connections you make throughout your life are who you really are. The partnership with your spouse, an unconditional bond with a child, appreciation for your parents, and the warm spot in your heart held by your grandparents.

But what about connections outside our family? Do you know your mailman? Your child's teacher? Your neighbor? All the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Do you know them? Or, do you go about your day wrapped up in your own little world; not giving them a second thought, asking how they are, or worrying about their problems? And why should you? Their problems are just that - their problem. Except that we all live together on this planet and if it is a problem for them, it is a problem for all of us. The narrow mindedness of self is what has gotten us into our current mess. We would do anything to protect our family. Outside of that it is every man for himself.

What if we extended our definition of family to our community? If you thought of your neighbor as a family member would you treat them differently? Would you visit, offer assistance, look out for them? The same goes for the checker at the grocery store. Would you get impatient and irritated when the line was not moving as fast as you thought it should be? Or, would you strike up a friendly conversation with others waiting in line? "Hey, Bob. I walked past your house the other day and saw a nice patch of sweet corn you have growing. I have some good looking watermelon that would compliment it. You and Susie should come over some time. We could grill your corn and slurp our watermelon!" What about the one "weird guy" wandering around that every town has? If you thought of him as family would you stop and acknowledge him? Ask him how he is or if he needed anything? The cranky old lady with fifty cats? Perhaps you could stop by and offer some extra catnip growing in your flower bed that her cats might appreciate. Often these people are just looking for personal contact. Someone to take the time to show that they care.

This holiday season when you are gathering with your family do not forget to spend time with your other family. Make a point to have personal contact, build connections, grow your family. People bond together in times of crisis to overcome incredible odds. That time is now. Our planet is in peril, our economy in turmoil, and our very existence is at stake. Extend you family to your community, your state, your country and beyond. If the whole world becomes one big family we will start looking out for each other and for it.

1 comment:

fullfreezer said...

My children and I were planning to help prepare and serve at our community free lunch program today. Unfortunately, we are all sniffling and coughing and are most likely toxic. I opted to not take them as I don't want my kids to share more than food with our community's homeless and hungry-they already have it hard enough without getting a cold from my young ones. We're laying low today.


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