The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

Better Together

Why it’s important to connect with family over the holiday season

Every year for Christmas, we take the drive to the cabin that my grandparents, dad and uncle built together and we bask in the togetherness of it all–whether that be singing carols, making sure everyone gets a turn to make something in the kitchen, watching holiday movies in the back room or the family-wide euchre tournament. 

But one year, we decided to go visit my step-mom’s family in South Carolina, the first time we had ever done something like that. We didn’t have any sort of traditions established, or even any games that we could play together. At one point, after my cousins and I had gone to a separate room to scroll on our phones, there was a clamor from the dining room when we realized that my dad and step-uncle were in a heated debate over politics.

Now, we’ve been estranged from that part of the family and it lead me to think–why was there such a stark difference between our usual holiday activities versus these ones? The conclusion I’ve come to is our essence of how much we focus on being together as a family.

Our family cabin where celebrate every year (Photo by Courtesy)

In a politically divided and technologically advancing world, I think it’s easy for many to put up a wall or hide behind our phones when things get complicated. But honestly, that will only lead to everything unraveling quicker. 

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By hiding behind our vices, we don’t allow ourselves to open up and appreciate the holiday for what it is. And trust me–I know it’s easier said than done, I’m not at all immune to the crazy family members who seem to have the most unhinged and out-of-pocket opinions. However, I think that makes it ten times more important to try to bring the family together.

It’s especially important to remember that we have limited time with the family we have, and it’s vital that we enjoy what time we do have. Otherwise, that time could slip away and we won’t have any lasting memories, and a lot of those memories can be made over the holidays.

My great-grandpa was a huge part of my life as a kid and we had deep-rooted traditions that started with him and we still practice even now because of his lasting impact on us. 

But as I got older, I began to isolate myself more from the family during these holidays and refused to participate in these traditions. As the first great-grandkid in the family, I had a special place in the family itself. Now that they’ve both passed, I realize just how important it was for me to get that time with them that I neglected.

I think we, as the first grandchildren, or nieces, or nephews or maybe just the favorite, have an important role to play in family gatherings and can use it for good. Yes, holidays have other meanings. But for many, like myself, the holiday season is the only time we get to see a lot of our family and to have that torn with conflict can be so damaging.

Our christmas tree (Photo by Courtesy)

And don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that we should just sit down and take whatever’s being thrown at us just for connection’s sake. Rather, I think we can work extra hard to bring everyone together. That could mean bringing a board game to play, asking to help in the kitchen and so much more. At the end of the day, in a time so divided, it’s so much more important to know what it feels like to be together.

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About the Contributor
Leo Kendall, Print Editor of Copy
Leo Kendall is a member of the Class of 2025 and the Print Editor of Copy for Portrait. This is their second year on Portrait and their favorite thing about journalism is being able to tell the stories and represent underrepresented groups and individuals at the highschool. When they're not in the newsroom, you can usually find them listening to music, working at Target, or running one of their many clubs.

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