“There simply is no pill that can replace human connection. There is no pharmacy that can fulfill the need for compassionate interaction with others. There is no panacea. The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us.” — Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

We had an extended family reunion recently. When we all get together, it is usually utter chaos. We are a loud and boisterous bunch if I do say so myself.

We interrupt each other and talk above each other, attempting to get our different points across.

There are always at least three or four different conversations regarding various topics occurring concurrently.

Peace and Contentment

We may now be older and somewhat wiser, but it is as if time stood still. We still squabble like children and exchange playful banter. We play card games, board games, and table tennis like we used to in the good old days.

Regardless of how much time has elapsed, we can always pick up right where we left off.

Amid all the craziness, I feel a great sense of peace and contentment. We are all together again.

Newfound Appreciation

Of course, we have differences and disagreements from time to time, as all families do. Still, our much-anticipated family reunion turned out to be busy, fun, and memorable.

I can genuinely say we appreciate each other all the more now after having gone more than 18 months and, in some cases, two years without meeting each other in person.

It felt even more special to be all together as a family in one place again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Meaningful Relationships

We cherish all our relationships even more now because of COVID. By now, we have all been affected by it in some way, shape, or form.

Humans are social animals. We crave that human connection and yearn to be in the company of people no matter what our personality type.

These interpersonal interactions are essential to our emotional development. They are the most apparent barometers of our emotional well-being.

According to Dr. Robert Waldinger, the 2017 Harvard Study of Adult Development director, meaningful relationships improve emotional, mental, and physical health.

We are fed up with conducting our lives on Zoom. While the pandemic year would have been even more challenging without Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Whatsapp, there are no substitutes for meeting family and friends in person.

Final Thoughts

With the delta variant raging across the country and the globe, it may be a while before we can all meet again as a family since we live on opposite sides of the country.

We will have to make do with online interactions for the time being. In the meantime, we will cherish the special moments and beautiful memories we made together as a family.

To quote Michael  J. Fox: ‘‘Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.’’

How do you enjoy spending time with extended family?

B.R. Shenoy is a married mother of two. She has a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.S. in chemical toxicology. She is a former expat in Brazil, France, and Japan. She is  a regular writer for The Good Men Project. Her work has also appeared in Scary Mommy and Idle Inks. You can find her on Medium and Twitter.





Image courtesy of Askar Abayev.