By Hagit Malikin, Student Intern
Coming to Canada with my parents and sister at the age of 6 was hard. Why? Many reasons, of course. However, one of the hardest things my family had to do was leave our relatives behind. We had no one here but each other. As the years went by, we met other families with similar culture and background and became so close, we now call each other family.
Are you familiar with the saying: “You don’t choose family?” Well, sometimes life happens and you are given the opportunity to form strong and meaningful connections with other people, who you may, later on, call family. So I would say that sometimes you do get to choose your family. This was our “chosen” Canadian family.
As the holidays approach and the New Year peaks around the corner, we gather our loved ones together to spend long dinners and share deep conversations as well as hearty laughs. For each one of us, “our loved ones” are different. Some of us gather our close family relatives or invite friends that they’ve known since childhood. Whereas others spend the evening with their precious dog who became a best friend or get together with wonderful people they met in the community.
Enjoying relaxing and fun moments with friends and family adds great value to our mental and physical health. Research has supported time and again how spending time with people we love provides the opportunity to form stronger relationship bonds. Family closeness, or family bond, is seen to have various positive effects on one’s life. Allocating time for various family activities promotes a more positive emotional climate and hence, allows for children, adults and elderly to feel more connected, belonged and loved. In addition, family time affords more opportunities for communication. Research has shown that healthy and effective communication positively affects aspects such as marital relationship, children’s development and adolescents’ behaviour.
Spending time with those we love and care for is one of the greatest gifts during the holiday season. Many of today’s families are so busy. This results to very little available time for each other. The holidays provide us the opportunity to put aside all the work and daily hassles and focus on those we love most.
When the holiday season passes, what can we do to stay connected in our daily busy lives? Here are some suggestions…
- Schedule a dinner with the whole family (at least) once a week
- Bond when driving in the car. Car rides are great ways to learn about each other’s day
- Include your children to participate in house chores by turning the chores to fun games with music and laughter.
- Take evening walks after dinner. Calm walks are great for digestion and of course, for some family bonding. Invite the whole family for some relaxing walks around the neighbourhood.
- Have breakfast together. Mornings can be hectic but we all have to eat! Assign everyone a morning task in the kitchen to create a quick healthy breakfast to share.
On behalf of Evolution Psychology Center, we wish you a very happy holiday season, a Happy New Year and, most importantly, unforgettable moments with your family, chosen or not!