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As we enter the holiday season, it’s important to recognize the importance of family. I’m not brazen enough to think I can add something new to all of the articles written this time of year every year extolling the values of giving thanks and family. What I can do is relate my own experience and hope you can build upon it.

In my youth, I was all about avoiding reliance on my family in all forms. I didn’t want to feel indebted to anyone nor did I want to be inconvenienced by having to deal with other’s problems. In hindsight, I was heading down a potentially destructive path. Once I reached middle age and my parents entered their senior years, my view began to soften and I realized how many years of precious family time I may have wasted — it sounds cliche but it’s actually the way it all played out.

Now as I journey into my senior years, and care for my wife and young daughter, I’ve come full circle and now fully acknowledge both my desire to be close to my family and my growing reliance on them. While both my parents are now gone, I’ve increasingly reconnected with cousins on both sides of the family.

I could easily drone on and on about this topic but I want to keep this short and simply say: If you want to understand the true meaning and benefit of the holidays — any holiday — take time to think about your relationships with your family and look for ways to reconcile and reconnect. Life is challenging enough without being alienated from those who should be closest to you.

Most importantly, look around you for those without family who would benefit from your friendship, support, and comfort. The holidays can be especially hard on the elderly, the infirmed, the disabled, and their caregivers. Take someone into your heart and you may find your heart grows two or three times in size — in a good way.

Now, remember to breathe, reflect on the importance of family, and enjoy the holidays!

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