Most of us winter-weary Canadians can agree on the value of having a holiday in February. The Canadian statutory Family Day is celebrated in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Ontario. Meanwhile, the province of Manitoba celebrates Louis Riel Day, Prince Edward Island has Islander Day, Nova Scotia and the Yukon Territory have Heritage Day, and Prince Edward Island has Islander Day. All usually occur on the third Monday in February and we are encouraged by the Canadian government and numerous news articles to spend it bonding with our families. Many communities across the country provide special free events to partake in while enjoying extra time with family members.
However, if you don’t have close family ties this extra holiday will not carry much significance. Neither will it seem appealing to individuals who lack support from family members to begin with. While it may seem like most Canadians are enjoying fun family outings, winter carnivals, and outdoor gatherings together, many are simply working as usual.
On the other hand, you may have moved so far away that spending time with your first family is simply not financially or physically viable.
While I like the idea of Family Day, I tend to think that, as grown adults, we are capable of creating our own sense of community with friends. Spending extra time with friends that share mutual interests can be a great way to enjoy the much-needed holiday in February. Rather than working through it or forcing “quality time” with family members you share nothing in common with, hanging out for a few hours with people you feel connected to is comparable to going on vacation—refreshing, rejuvenating, and relaxing.
Likewise, spending quality time with yourself is a healthy way to work on your relationship with yourself. Just because you don’t have family nearby does not mean you can’t go buy yourself a colourful bunch of tulips, order your favourite Chinese takeout, or treat yourself to some TLC. You deserve a break with a nice hot bubble bath, a giant glass of a new dark beer, or a session working on that new work of art (that doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy it so much).
Family is not limited to who you grew up with. Family is the community you build wherever you are. Unfortunately, your original family can be the people who have caused you the most damage and heartache. Sometimes, healing your wounds and searching out the people who appreciate you for exactly who you are right here, right now, is the best family of all.
Family can also be found in other places, if you look. If you’re a musician or writer, join a music or writing group. Love running? Join a runner’s group. Love art? Join some art classes. You may be pleasantly surprised by the warm feelings stirred within when you find the new “family” that shares your interests, struggles, and insights.
I joined a “Newcomer’s Club” when I moved to a small town on Vancouver Island for a year. While many joked about the advanced age of the majority of people who made up this group, I met the kindest, most welcoming couple that helped me through a tough time. These people became like an instant family to me, and I’m eternally grateful for their compassion and friendship.
Beyond the standard February family and love holidays, there is always the option to celebrate the lunar Chinese New Year by surrounding yourself with plenty of candlelight, ambient lighting, or if all else fails, hanging out in the lighting section of Home Depot.
“Friends, there is nothing like your own family to make you appreciate strangers!” –Barbara Kingsolver