Oh I can say something about it, being the eldest of a tribe of 6 and when we all gather I always find myself exhausted when it ends! Family reunions can be really difficult to manage knowing we all have skeletons in the closet, relatives that drive us crazy and unresolved issues involving hurt feelings and jealousy.
All of us deal with dysfunctional family relationships on some level.
In the heart of my own battles with my brothers and sisters, is the heavy responsibility I have to bear for the rest of my life for almost all the emotional struggles they encountered in their youth because (supposedly) of my severity. Well, yes I had no choice but to act severely when 2 sisters and 3 brothers invaded my livable space. And my eldest position gave me advantages obviously. Let it at least serve for a purpose! Because besides bringing lots of frustrations, being the eldest is useless.
Everyone wants everything from the eldest who receives nothing in return but countless reasons to feel irritated. The irony being that we never asked to be the first ones to come! It just happens so why should it transform into a curse? Why should anyone expect the eldest to serve as the irreproachable model for the youngest with the risk of cutting you from your own innocence? De facto it creates a gap between you and the youngest.
Obviously we finally understand our parents’ motivation led by their own struggles dealing with a gang of kids.
However I have to admit that being part of a big family is also a blessing. These struggles become priceless memories, which puts a smile on my face and are reasons for all of us to laugh when meeting again. Because this is how it always ends up.
Beyond our differences I realized that meeting with my brothers and sisters as well as my parents is crucial to my emotional balance. No matter how much we fight (again!), argue or even laugh hard, I always end up feeling revived when getting back to my normal routine.
Family gatherings are truly an immersion into yourself as each member of your family is a projection of an aspect of who you are. It is a unique occasion to get back to roots, dwell in a deep sense of belonging that each one can then pass on to his children and his grandchildren.
One thing that I found out is that to make the gathering process easier is to put aside our natural human tendencies and focus on the present.
Each family has its own way of doing things. So giving the opportunity to everyone to express things their own way is really important. And most importantly being able to listen to each other is mandatory. That’s easier said than done but it is critically necessary to be able to enjoy the process as much as possible.
When we’re planning a family reunion, we’re in fact making family memories for everyone involved and that’s the beauty of it! Given a chance, family reunions and celebrations can provide family members with important values, strong and lasting bonds.
At the end of the day, what will remain of it but fond memories, stories and, most importantly, relationships that will last for generations.