May 15 is International Day of Families. It’s a wonderful reminder to celebrate what it means to be part of a family – no matter what that looks like for you.
I like days that we celebrate important people, achievements, hopes and milestones each year. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, ANZAC Day, International Day of the Girl Child, Remembrance Day. Through flowers, socks, wreaths, hashtags and poppies, each day has its own unique way of being celebrated. The International Day of Families was initiated in 1993 by the United Nations to provide an “opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families as well as to promote appropriate action”. The day did not call for ribbons, public holidays or gifts, rather it called for awareness. The day encourages us to consider the challenges that society sometimes places on families and what we can do to reduce these challenges.
International Day of Families is an opportunity to also celebrate what it means to be part of a family. The United Nations didn’t define family; rather we are invited to consider all the relationships and ways of being that make us and our communities who and what we are. For some, a family might be a mum, dad, sister and dog. For others, it might be dad and a daughter. And for others it could be a mum, dad, nine brothers and sisters, eight aunties, eight uncles, one nanna, two grandparents, one great aunty, 23 cousins and 10 nieces and nephews. Well, that’s my family! The great, glorious, and loud community that makes me who I am. These are the people who make me happy, they celebrate my successes and lift me up when I fall down.
“Family is also the community that holds you, and often others, together when things are not so good. We need to rely on our families. They are the ones we are living with in close quarters, they are seeing our fears and our excitement.”
This year, as we celebrate the International Day of Families, I draw on the wisdom of Fr Andrew Hamilton sj.
“Family day is a time to celebrate the generosity and goodness displayed in families, and the resilience that finds life in the most unfavourable circumstances.”
Take this time to celebrate the wide variety of families we have in our community. Let’s continue as family members who are hopeful and resilient, for each other and the world.
Rachel McLean is the Leader Formation at Cairns Catholic Education