Family Day

Photo by Roland zh.

Photo by Roland zh.

Happy Family Day to my Canadian readers!

Confession:  manufactured holidays like this one are a little silly to me.

Most of us don’t choose our families. We’re born, adopted, or married into them. And that’s it. You’re one of the group now for better or worse. I’m very lucky to have a close-knit immediate family, but even in my specific situation it feels weird to take one day out of the year and focus so intensely on such a small group of people.

These kinds of relationships should be nurtured in small ways over the course of a year, not crammed into one day of mandatory togetherness like Valentine’s Day.

When the card companies start making greeting cards for this holiday – and I have no doubt that they eventually will – who will count on Family Day? The list of people I love absolutely includes family members, but it also includes friends. And a few pets I had growing up that still hover on the edges of nostalgic dreams.  Sometimes animals are people, too. 😉

To reduce the observation of this holiday to “real” relatives would be like trying to celebrate Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie or Easter without jelly beans.

(Why, yes, I do rank holidays at least partially by what kinds of food one should expect at them. Goodies are a big part of what makes almost any holiday special. Some things are only available for short periods of time!)


On a less serious note, as I was writing this post I giggled at the thought of turning up on my oldest brother Jesse’s doorstop someday.

“Um, what are you doing here?” he’d ask. We live on nearly opposite sides of North America, so it would be highly unusual for me to visit spontaneously.

“It’s Family Day!” I’d squeal.


“We’re siblings. This is Family Day. We’re supposed to do something as a Family ™ to observe it.”

“Well, I have to go to work now. We could go out to dinner tonight if Jeni is free…”

“That’s ok. I’ll follow you around all day in the meantime and tell your coworkers really embarrassing stories about your childhood. It’ll be great. ”

“Er, is that really what Canadians do on Family Day?”

At which point I’d pause and consider the likelihood that anyone on my side of the family googled this distinctly non-U.S. custom ahead of time.

“Sure. And then we eat cake.”


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