BY Bill Reagan
There are a couple of reasons family is such an important part of our lives in the Rio Grande Valley. Mexican and Mexican-American culture celebrate the extended family. The vast majority of our population is rooted in Latin culture. The Valley is relatively isolated from the rest of the nation, and from Mexico, too. We’ve had to depend on local bonds for support.
We take it for granted that family is important, but why?
We need family for times of crisis. Disappointment, disaster, even death, will surely come. Life’s burdens are often heavy. No one can make it alone.
We need family to know who we are. It’s been said that home is the place you go when you have nowhere else to go, and where they have to take you in. That may not be the happiest way to look at life, but this tells us something about family and about ourselves — that is, who we really are. You may wish you could have escaped your past, but you have to deal with it. Embrace your past if it is good, learn to accept it if it is not. You are not fully you until you do.
So build a strong family.
Strong families are built on love, acceptance and forgiveness. Dr. Seuss once wrote, “Be who you are. Say what you feel. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Families are those people who don’t mind that you are not perfect, are a bit worse for life’s wear or have failed. They love you for who you are, accept what life has brought your way and forgive you because you are family.
A strong family doesn’t just happen. We are often more harsh with those who are closest to us that we are to strangers. It is more important to offer love, acceptance and forgiveness than it is to receive these great gifts.
Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.