All in the Family

All in the Family

In May, we had Mother’s Day and in this month (June), Father’s Day is just around the corner. Family has been on my mind. My thoughts then went to a license plate frame I once had (Yes, a license plate frame).

When my kids were young, as many families do, we made a weekend outing to an amusement park. As we entered, one of the vendors was selling license plate frames. One in particular caught my attention (“Happiness is being a Family”), and I knew I had to have that frame for my car. For me, happiness was truly being part of a family.

The license plate frame and I were together for many years and it had moved from car to car. Just like the cars had changed, families also change. We move from our childhood family to families of choice (legal, love, emotional, supportive and/or convenience).

One day, my car was in an accident (all persons involved were OK) and towed to an Auto Body shop. The next day, when I went to check on the damage, I found the “Happiness is being a Family” license plate frame missing. No one knew how this could happen as the car was in a secure location. Many years later, I learned that no matter how secure or strong you believe your family relationships are, they may become strained, broken or even missing – and no one knows how or why that happened. Unlike the license plate frame, family relationships don’t have to remain broken or missing.

Happiness is being a family – and it takes a lot of work, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding and/or just plain old letting go. As a Unitarian Universalist I turn to the Seven Principles as my guide, in this case: #1 – The inherent worth and dignity of every person, #2 – Justice, equity and compassion in human relations, #3 – Acceptance of one another… and #7 – Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. And in reference to our June theme of “Blessing”, I have inner peace knowing I have done my part in mending broken family relationships. Happiness is still being a family!

In faith,
John Harris


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