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It’s all relative for National Family Week

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In case you didn’t know, this week in National Family Week.

There was a time when the ideal family looked like something out of “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It to Beaver.”

There’s the father who comes to the table and then reads his evening paper, still smartly dressed in his shirt and tie. The mom was perpetually at home in her starched apron and pearl necklace. And then there were the prerequisite kids — a freckled boy, just naughty enough to be cute, and his sister, skipping in and out in her frilly dress and shiny patent leather shoes.

Times have changed and the faces of families have changed to embrace a wide assortment of configurations.

What has remained constant is the importance of that sense of family in our lives. Families should bring us a sense of love, warmth, trust, familiarity, laughter, strength and support. Families are something we all should work hard to nurture and grow.

My cousins and I grew up close, almost as close as siblings. We’re still close and family is still important to us all. Yet today, we seem to be a people with much to do and little time to do it. So how do we honor and foster our sense of family?

Here are some suggestions from our neighbors.

Fred Richards, Highland: It’s what my parents did; what my wife and I did with our own children; and what we now do with our grandchildren. We tell the stories of our lives. Oral history has been a great tradition going back decades. We make sure each generation knows our ancestors by name and what they were able to accomplish in life. That’s part of becoming immortal — when family makes the effort to remember.

Harriet Wayte, Dyer: My grandmother used to tell me stories about her World War II Victory Garden, so years ago I started one with my three young children. My husband joined in and we worked under summer skies, caring for the earth and growing our own vegetables. As we worked, we talked and grew closer as a family. All of my kids make it a practice to plant gardens with their own children now.

Carolyn Degadas, Hammond: This might sound like a cliché, but Sunday has always been family time and we hold that sacred. Nothing was more important in our house on Sunday than being together, playing with our sisters and brothers and cousins, sharing a big, warm meal and then listening to our uncle sing at the piano. My husband came from a similar background, so family Sundays is a tradition we both share and are trying to carry it forward.

Gabby O’Shaughnessy, Winfield: Starting our family, my husband and I were sure we didn’t want the TV to become our sole babysitter so we set aside time each day for all of us to sit down and read out loud. As the kids got older, we took turns picking out the books. Sometimes we only get to do it once a week now but reading together is something we all look forward to as a family.



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