aloha every day

aloha every day

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Forced Family Time

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.  ~Jane Howard

I am up early this morning reflecting on the events of the last few days and mostly on FAMILY.
What events, you say?
Thursday.  I had invited Mom up to Encinitas (I work about 30 minutes from where we live) to have dinner with me after work.  Nick had an open house at his new, fabulous school and because we drive one car to work (woot!), I had oodles of time to spare.  Hence my invite to mom.
We had the makings of a brilliant evening...lots of time, beautiful weather, the beach nearby, a good friend to meet up with, a town we had not yet explored together...

Cue power outage.

We figured it was local...a few blocks at most.  There was some traffic, but nothing that would sideline our plans. As plans normally go, though, Plan B was initiated.
We didn't have much gas in the car, but we decided to pick up our friend and go to dinner anyway.  Restaurants weren't open by the ocean, but Subway was.  Hahaha.  I'm not a fan of fast food, but I can handle Subway once in a while.
So we took our Subway to the beach as the sun sunk towards the horizon.  The power would be on again soon, right?  We could gas up and head home in a few hours.
Plan B had become more enchanting than Plan A ever had the potential to be...

Cue news that power outage stretched from Arizona, to Mexico, to Orange County.
This is going to take a while.
People are becoming increasingly hysterical.  What is it about sudden change that encourages nonsensical behavior?  Rumors were swirling...terrorist attack...booms under the ocean...3-5 days without power...
Resilience, America.  We can do it.  Try again next time.

Cue Plan C.

What does this all have to do with reflections on family?  Hold tight.  I'll get there.
In my typically over-concerned brain, I decided we had better leave before sunset to try to catch Nick before he left school.  We could ride home with him and leave the gasless car in Encinitas.
Pulling into Nick's school, we saw the other car still in the parking lot.  Phew.  He's still there.
Only he wasn't.  Hahaha.
After the Open House he had gone to hang with the other teachers at a nearby house to wait out the traffic jam, says the Dean who was locking up the building.

Cue Plan D.

Dean calls answer.  Dean texts answer.  Nick's phone doesn't get service either...Oh.  Dean calls and texts people who may be with answer.  Dean needs to go...needs to get home to his family.

Cue Plan E.

Revert to the 1980' cell phones, no internet.  We write a note and leave it on Nick's car.  Coasting on fumes back to our friend's apartment, we hope Nick will get the note and come to our rescue.  Until then, it's martinis and candles on the lanai, and great company! 
About an hour later, Nick came.  The sun had set, car had plenty of gas, and we were exhausted.
Now imagine three full-grown adults in a 2-seater Mazda Miata driving the California freeways...hahaha.
We made it home to find Kev and Brandon safe and sound, surrounded by candles and board games.
Power was restored around midnight and we found out that there was no terrorist attack...only a mistake made by a worker at the power plant.  Forgiven.
What a night!

So...what does this ALL have to do with FAMILY?
Well, for one, thank God mom decided to join me for dinner.  Had she not, Nick and I would have only had the gasless car.  We are so thankful to be living close to family, not only for resources like cars with gas, but also to have people with whom to share our life.
In the past few months, we have shared laughs, tears, moves, dinners, baseball games, important decisions, parties, engagements, new jobs, etc, etc.
It is much more meaningful to share in these moments than it is to recount them over the phone.

We have said it every day.  There is nothing like having family around.

The day after the blackout, the news reported that families had "forced family time" and that they didn't have access to their "devices" know, Blackberries, Ipads, Computers...
They continued to say that people reportedly enjoyed this forced family time.
They enjoyed looking each other in the eye?
They enjoyed talking to each other?
They enjoyed playing games that didn't require electricity?

Our society, and specifically our family structure (on the majority) is increasingly complex anymore.
We are fueled by these "devices".  We wake up early, only to check-out of consciousness and check-in online.
Meanwhile, our children are following that model, yet still require the attention that any child needs to be balanced and appropriately nourished.
Attention in the form of computerized, non-social interaction replaces social skills and positive social reinforcement.  Our children go to school without social skills...and the domino effect continues.  I could write on this topic forever because I see it every day.  If you don't know what I speak of, volunteer for a day on the playground at an elementary school.

It is unfortunate that it took a widespread power outage for the realization of "forced family time" to occur.
Why isn't this family time forced by choice, instead?

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family.  Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.  ~Paul Pearshall

Perhaps this post is long enough.
Enough, already!
I'm off to have some forced family time.  Only, it's my choice to force it, not a position I've found myself in unwillingly. 
I pray the same for my family and yours, current and future.

'Ohana means family - no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten.  ~Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, Lilo & Stitch

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