COVID19 and the pandemic of 2020 have offered many of us the opportunity to reassess and recalibrate. We are grounded, have become grateful, and been galvanized into serving others, as the coronavirus shifted our perspective on everything that we hold dear. Things have been relegated back to things, relationships and our connections to others have become a lifeline to the outside world while quarantining at home. Our families have benefited from the sudden shift of quarantine living that has made us homebodies. And everything we do addresses the challenges of working from home and adapting to a reality where a deadly virus has become the forefront of everything we consider.
COVID and Compromise
#TeamGellibean had dreams of celebrating Christmas with my parents in Florida, but we knew that seeing family and friends through Zoom, FB Messenger, and FaceTime was the safest way to keep our bubbles intact. We happily opted for less lively celebrations that consequently, were filled with more mindful interactions, gift-giving, and of course, more meaning.
Back To Basics
So what is the resounding revelation of 2020 as we round up our celebrations of Baby Jesus’ birthday?
Family is everything.
Family can be more than those we are related to by blood.
It is our gift from God.
It’s our first church.
It’s what drives us to do more.
It’s why we keep safe.
FAMILY is the first thing we look for when we are in need of comfort and when we want to celebrate our triumphs.
Family is NORTH in the compass of our hearts.
Because this is a parenting column after all, I thought I would share different ways we can nurture our families, how we can create the sense of family from toddlers to teens, and how we can build on the values that we have all revisited because 2020 has given us so many reasons to go back to basics…
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to pick the brains of our littles (and our not so littles) to find out what FAMILY means to them? I have always enjoyed the candid responses of children when they share what’s really on their minds. They do not have filters. They speak truth without fear of consequence, and as I have said on many occasions, they can hold a mirror to their parents like no one else can.
Conversely, I have also enjoyed my teens, come young adults, who have a really deep understanding of what family means to them. They have seen Nino and I in all of our flaws through both terrible setbacks and in joyous celebration. They have their own sense of what is right and wrong and can aptly express themselves when asked to contemplate, judge, or explain where they stand on certain issues and current events.
I am so thankful that some of my momma friends were willing to have this conversation with their kiddos, so that we could learn from them too. Here’s what some of their children had to say.
“Family is My Core.”
“For me, family is love. As cliche as it sounds, I think there is no denying the two words from being intertwined with one another. Families are literally the products of love- and unconditional love, at that. But what makes it special for me is that family isn’t limited to blood. You can find family in your teachers, in your friends, and in people that play instrumental roles in your overall wellbeing.
My family is the core of my life. We are in no way perfect, in terms of the ideal family and society’s unrealistic views of it. But we are perfect for each other. And I know, without a doubt, that I can count on my siblings and parents just as they can count on me.
I love my family more than I could ever put to words. We are an unconventional bunch, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Nico Belasco, 21 years old
“Family is Fun.”
“Family is the Tuasons, we watch a lot of movies, swim, and have fun.”
Arya Tuason, 6 years old
“My family is the one I play video games with and talk about cows, barns, and planes.”
Andre Tuason, 9 years old
“Family Means Taking Care and Being Kind.”
“Family means taking care, being nice and kind and no hitting. That’s all I know. My family is Mommy, Daddy, David, Ate Jiezl (her guardian angel in our home) and my Vovó ( grandma in Portuguese), my dogs, the birds, my cousins… Mama and Papa, Dandan, Vovô, Guigui, the trees, and plants.”
Isabella Matsunaga-Sunga, 4 years old
“They Love You No Matter What.”
“Family is a group of people who cares about you and loves you no matter what.”
Wyatt Panutat, 9 years old
“Family is Protection.”
“To me what family is is, family is like my protector, they help me and they care for me a lot.”
Scarlet Mago, 8 years old
“My family protects me. They love and they care of me.”
Kaeden Velasco, 6 years old
“Family is Beauty, Love, and Imperfection.”
“Hi, my name is Paco, I am the second of four children in my family. My mom asked me to write a paragraph on what I think family is. Despite my inherent youth, which may not provide the most solid of bases for a somewhat profound answer; alas, an answer I have. Family is an unintentionally oxymoronic phrase, it connotes feelings of beauty as a consequence of warmth and love; however in that same vein, it’s plain to see the humanity in family, and by humanity, I mean the inherent imperfections that are so heavily intergrated into every family in existence. But, it is this juxtaposition of beauty and imperfection that sum up what family is. Love and acceptance despite quarrels, arguments between best friends, vehement fights between spouses, and trivial spats between siblings; we’re always here for each other, through hell or high water. Family is everything.”
Paco Garcia, 15 years old
As we close out the holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming of the New Year, one thing is for sure, we will welcome the new opportunities with the hope of rising to all of the challenges 2021 may bring, while remembering to relish in the beauty, the love of family, and all of their imperfections.
Michelle Aventajado shares lessons learned through triumphs and challenges in motherhood, relationships, and life, as she raises four children ranging in age from nine to twenty-one. She believes that every trial presents an opportunity to learn, that her daughter Gelli is her greatest teacher, and that as a parent, it is important to instill in her children that they are part of something bigger. 1 Cor 13:13
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