This blog was prepared by YMCA Newcomer Information Centre Information and Referral Specialists Doris Garcia.
For Canadians, the family is mostly described as a father, a mother and children. However, the family is beyond that. In my country and for me family means brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, pets, extended family and close friends who can be a part of my family.
I like the quote from Michael J. Fox “Family is not anything, it is everything”. The family gives unconditional love, care, loyalty, support, acceptance and respect.
Good communication within the family is very important. When you express your needs, your family members are likely to help. All families have conflicts, but if there is good communication, conflicts can be resolved. We need to learn to forgive at the end because they are our family and always will be.
I have been very blessed to grow up in a family of four children, two boys and two girls, with many uncles, aunts and cousins who have been very close. I remember when my mom or dad couldn’t take my sibling or me to the doctor or to the park, one of my uncles would take us. They were always there for us. I grew up seeing some of my uncles as a second father.
My father and two of my uncles lived on the same street and their houses were next to each other. It was a tradition to spend time together every Sunday afternoon. Christmas and New Year are traditional celebrations for the whole family. Everybody came early for dinner. We all used to sit together at the table thanking God for all the blessings he gave us throughout the year, made a toast, ate the twelve grapes and enjoy the food. At midnight, we hugged each other and wished Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year.
When we were all growing up, times in El Salvador were difficult. Most of my family fled the country and came to the United States. A few years later, I got married and my husband and I came to Canada. Leaving my family behind was very difficult for me. My husband had brothers here in Canada. I didn’t know them much, but I’m grateful that they welcomed me and made me feel at home.
Through the years, my family in Canada has grown. Most of my husband’s siblings came to Canada and we all started our own family. Three years ago, my brother and his family also came to Canada and we all are a very close family. We continue with the tradition of meeting for Christmas and New Year’s and at midnight, we hug each other and wish a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year. We thank God for all the blessings he gave us throughout the year, make a toast, eat the twelve grapes and enjoy the food. The tradition continues. Unfortunately, this year we were unable to meet physically but we did virtually.
In addition, technology has changed, and with Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram I can communicate with all my family in any part of the world at any time.
For me, 2019 & 2020 have been a bit difficult, but I am very grateful to God for having the support of all my family, friends and coworkers. In 2020, some members of my family have had COVID-19. Although most of them have recovered, I lost three cousins and one uncle whom I considered as a second father. I wanted to go back and say goodbye for the last time, however, could not travel back due to COVID-19.
Finally, I LOVE MY FAMILY. I am grateful for the memories I have from my childhood and grateful to grow up in a big and united family. I am grateful to be here in Canada and have my own family. In addition, I am grateful that my children and grandchildren are also growing up in a big and united family.