As we approach the holiday season, I am reminded about the importance of really slowing down and being present in each moment to fully receive the blessings within. In a world that glorifies busyness and overly committed schedules (multi-tasking, ha!), this time of year is a wake–up call to make each second a sanctuary. The leaves are changing colors and falling and I am reminded of the cycle of life that follows the same pattern.
I always get excited around the holiday season because it means I get to see my family. I’m a Texas girl living in Alabama so when I get to literally go home every Christmas, I think I get more excited than my daughter waiting on Santa Claus. The word “family” brings to mind all the faces of all my dear loved ones and immediately my heart fills with joy. I am blessed at my age to still have most of my grandparents living, both my parents, two amazing brothers (and the sisters they brought into the family with them), and now my husband and daughter. These people are the stones that have built the house that holds my heart. Don’t get me wrong – things have not always been rosy and beautiful. We have had our share of heartaches and battle our own forms of “dysfunction”, but, at the end of the day, how many people can count most of their family as close friends?
Since I only get to see my traditional family on a limited basis, today I want to show appreciation for my chosen family. Chosen families are those individuals that come into our lives and fill voids that we quite possibly didn’t know existed. They pick up the slack for any area lacking without being asked. We recognize these individuals as soon as we see them; our souls sigh with relief. It has become my experience that my chosen family, or tribe as I like to call them, are just as valuable as my biological family.
Chosen families vary on an individual basis, but, for me, include girlfriends who have stepped into my life and love my child as much as I do. (They don’t mind being the emergency contacts listed on every school form!) They also include coworkers that I can’t even imagine going one day without hugging, a community of women that support me no matter what I say or do, and a church family that embraces me with open arms and hearts every week. I have learned to never, ever take these people for granted because their relationships are as delicate and can change as quickly as the leaves change colors and fall. Just as our physical lives are limited, the bonds we form with our chosen families are limited and serve their purpose until it’s time to move on.
It is never an easy transition to lose those we love whether by death or just from taking different paths, so the most we can do is to honor each moment by being present. My grandparents won’t live forever. My child won’t want to cuddle with me forever. (She already wants me to kiss her goodbye in the mornings five cars before we reach the curb!) Not all of the friendships currently in my life will last forever. All we have is now. This very second.
So take a moment now to reflect upon your own family in whatever way, shape, or form they present themselves to you. If even ONE person comes to mind, you are blessed beyond compare. Take the time to tell each member of your family how much they mean to you and truly give thanks to God that we aren’t sent here to walk our paths alone.
– Megan Lockwood Hayes
Megan Lockwood Hayes serves as a Student Aid Grant Specialist at Student Financial Services at the University of North Alabama. She is a native of Texas and calls Alabama home now. Megan juggles her husband, daughter, job, school work, friends and her “ME” time in a perfectly clumsy way. She loves her life deeply; and, she takes almost every experience that comes her way, positively. Megan hates negative and judgmental people, bullies and frogs. Megan loves cooking, cleaning, reading, working out, doing yoga, watching Netflix, cuddling with Rylan, playing outside, waking up without an alarm clock, rainy days, naps, wine, and more…