Having recently celebrated ‘Family Day’ and with March Break rapidly approaching, I thought it prudent to discuss the term ‘family’. The 3rd Monday in February used to be like every other day in February. Now it is a Statutory Holiday in 6 provinces and here in Ontario, celebrated our first Family Day on February 18, 2008. Family Day originated in Alberta in 1990 – the then-premier said that it was important for “Albertans to take time for their families, and that this holiday would emphasize the importance of family values”.
So it raises the question, how do you define family? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the medical definition of ‘family’ as: the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family i.e.: ‘a single-parent family’. I think we can agree that this definition is certainly lacking in covering all of the bases of what truly defines a family.
In order to qualify as a family under StatsCan’s definition, at least two people must be living under the same roof. That is getting closer. But what about a person and their furry companion? Is that considered a family? Not likely to the government or in the eyes of the law, but I can tell you for some people their animals are far more family than any human could ever be. My personal definition of family is pretty simple. My family are those people (and animals) that I love unconditionally, and who love me in the same capacity.
In a nutshell, Family Day was put in place so that we can take time for our families. Furry or otherwise. The jury is still out on this ‘holiday’ for me. Doesn’t Mother’s Day or Father’s Day encourage the same thing? There are no statutory holidays for either of those, but the idea being to take time with your family is still the driving sentiment.
Now if I am being totally honest, the idea of being around kids – potentially hundreds of kids – or even dozens for that matter – does not excite me. I of course adore and love my daughters but I am not a huge fan of being surrounded by other people’s children. As a result, Family Day and March Break terrify me from an ‘outing’ perspective. I (somewhat) understand the March Break need from a teacher’s standpoint, but unless you are in a position to be off with your kids for that week in March, you are on the hook (like me) to arrange for camps, babysitters and activities to fill up an entire week where the weather is almost guaranteed to be miserable and every ‘family’ friendly venue from here to Ottawa is going to be overrun with what seems like millions of kids.
Perhaps having been a single mom for the majority of my daughters lives and with their father living almost 7 hours away, I seek refuge and peace and solitude every now and then. Having these ‘family breaks’ thrust upon me leaves me feeling a bit lacklustre. I spend virtually every second when I am not at work with my children. And I love almost every second of that time together. So does wishing for a “Spend-time-alone” day make me less family oriented than others? Does it mean I love my family not quite as much as I should? Quite the contrary I believe. A desire and need to have some time for myself makes me more prepared and able to love my girls the ways they deserve.
At the end of the day, what you do during events like the March Break is much less important than who you do it with. No matter how you define family, enjoy them and the happiness it brings you.