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Don't let family slip through the cracks
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John Bressler

I believe it all begins with the family. What I am, what you are, what we are, is because of the love and care given to each of us by our parents as well as those in our family unit. Unfortunately, there are others who are what they are because of the lack of love and care refused to them.

Does this ring a bell? "Goodnight Mom, goodnight Dad, 'night Grandpa and Grandma, 'night John-boy, Julie-Jane, Jimmy-Joe, and goodnight Spot. Woof."

So ended a typical day at the TV Walton homestead. While most of us can't possibly believe that nearly a dozen people, including pets, actually lived under the same roof without clobbering one another, still others would like to go back in time when life was simpler, when everyone depended upon one another and when family ties were very close. What constitutes a family?

J.C. Penney, the hallmark of retail stores and one whom I will always think of fondly, referred to his employees as his family. Those of us who worked for him really believed it because it was so. He had a high work ethic and he expected his people to follow his example. We tried because we respected him and what he stood for.

Sociologists would define the basic family unit as married parents living together with their children, if any, who are related by blood or adoption ... or even by chance. When relatives live with this nuclear family, then you have the larger Walton type, or extended family. This is my long held definition which comforts me. Let's be open to the fact that today's definition is most likely not so simplistic.

Being a part of a family seems to be ordained by God. I say that because societies fall to pieces if there are no strong family ties. Even if some families seem to be sort of odd to us, that family will survive because they have a certain dependence upon one another and that gives them all the strength and determination to overcome so many of the potholes in life's highway. The family is the place of refuge from the world. Hey! Our children can get into fights, fail in school, or even be thought of as strange by the world, but at home, they are the greatest kids God ever made. And they know it!

I was told by a professor and sociologist at the University of South Florida that it is becoming more difficult each day to define the word family. Grandparents live great distances from their grandchildren. Communication is scarce, if at all. Children come home occasionally for meals and to have their clothes washed. In general, the family stays under one roof because it is economically sound or convenient, nothing more. And society suffers.

It is my thesis in life that the family may be the most important institution in the world. If it goes by the wayside, much like it does in Aldous Huxley's book of the future, "Brave New World," the world as we know it may also go.

We might lose sleep over the stock market, energy, politics, and get angry over a lot of unexpected problems, but if we let the family somehow slip through the cracks, all the rest won't add up to a hill of beans.

Celebration begins in the family as members affirm each other in loving and supportive ways. When we do this, the entire structure of the family can change from negative to positive. Birthdays become events of gratitude. "I'm so glad you are a part of this family!"

Let's make this week, this month, this year, a very special time. Let's do everything in our power to keep the family solid, supportive, loving and wonderful.

Our family is a miracle, created by God to make the future possible. He sure did!

Thanks, God!

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