Family life

Celebrate Family Day!

On the third Monday of February, Family Day is observed in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. So if you’re good in math, you’ve figured it out: it’s today!

In these three provinces, many people have a day off work and schools are generally closed for the occasion. But just because there may not be a public holiday to celebrate family values in your province, it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it too. After work that is!

Although it officially reflects on the values of family and home, rumour has it that one of the reasons for introducing Family Day was because there was a long period without holidays between New Year's Day and Good Friday! Hey, whatever the reason, we’ll take it!

Over the years, Canadian families – and families from around the globe in fact – have changed, evolved and adapted to new realities. If our grandmothers’ mothers had many more kids than the average woman today, families aren’t necessarily smaller. We may not have more children, but we include a lot more people in what we consider to be our family. And I’m not just talking about half-siblings and step-parents. I’m talking about all the other loved ones, friends, partners, confidants. The family has been redefined to be more inclusive, more open.  Because what makes a family is the love shared between the people who make it. Blood ties don’t have as much importance anymore. Well, they are important, don’t get me wrong, but you know what I mean. You do, don’t you?

When I moved across the globe for a year, my only worry was that I would miss my family terribly. Not in a “homesick schoolgirl” kind of way, but more in terms of special occasions I wouldn’t be able to share with them, and them with me. Birthdays, holidays, christenings and even the everyday little triumphs. Especially the everyday little triumphs.  

But to my great surprise, things weren’t nearly as difficult as I had anticipated. First of all, the great invention that is Skype (seriously, how good is it?) allowed me to talk and see my family as if I’d been right there in Montreal! In fact, I probably talked to them more when I was 16,000 km away than when I was living in the same city. Go figure! It allowed me to see my niece grow, see my nephew’s new haircut, witness my sister’s belly getting bigger, share a good laugh with my parents and see my entire family gathered around the computer on Christmas day.

The other reason my new reality was so easy to adapt to is because I quickly became a part of another family, an international and culturally diverse family. The last thing I expected when I left home was to feel just as home in a foreign land. Alone, by myself, in the middle of this little town that I knew almost nothing about. And yet as soon as I set foot there, I knew I was home. I can’t even explain why. Within a week or two, I’d already made friends with people from all corners of the world. Our cultures were different. Our languages were different. Our looks were different. And in the middle of all these differences, we stood together, laughed together, ate together. We were family. Just like that.

During that year, my friends became my “other” family. I shared with them all the joys and pains, successes and failures, laughs and tears, that I share my “real” family. We were there for each other like I’m there for my sisters, parents, nephews, niece and grandma. No questions asked. And that, to me, is what family is all about. Sticking together no matter what.

So on this great holiday, I wish all the different types of families out there a very special day. Take the time to tell whoever you consider to be your family how much they mean to you. Day off or not!

Image de Stéphanie Auclair

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