Embracing Your Family’s Story This Holiday Season

Posted by – December 16, 2015
Categories: Guest Post Indigenous Cultures & Anthropology Psychology & Personal Growth

Envisioning and embracing the family as a whole brings connection and peace to the holiday season.

Guest post by Francesca Mason-Boring, author of Connecting to Our Ancestral Past

Our Western, particularly American, consciousness is rife with blame. Therapy often consists of identifying who should be held accountable for our lot, and analysis of the dysfunction of our parents. These accusations don’t always bring peace. Many who are engaged in discussing blame pay a variety of therapists for years to listen to and rehash the same accusations, without reducing the sense of loss, pain, or loneliness.

We all come from a family. We each have a mother and a father. That is not a statement of function alone (which is most often our emphasis)—it is simple biology. To say, “I have no mother” or “I have no father” is never true. We all have one of each.

Family Constellation is a method that has been circling the globe for more than thirty years. The fundamentals of the work are influenced by indigenous wisdom so one might say that much of the work is as old as humanity and as organic as the common blood that flows through a family.

Family Constellation honors a holistic definition of both family and events. When one has been to war, or lost siblings or children early in life, or had one or both parents die, or if members of the family left kin and country to immigrate to the United States, the family may have experienced trauma—a frozen state, an inability to fully bond or be vulnerable to love as a result. When we do not embrace our family history, when we are looking from a place of our own expectations and readiness to judge, it is easy to find reasons that various family members do not “cut the mustard” and are a pain to endure. What would happen if we were to look at our family in a systemic way? What if we were first to honor what life has decided?

What exactly did “life” decide?

  • Where we were born
  • When we were born
  • To whom we were born
  • Which phenotype we express
  • The language we speak
  • The economic stratum to which we were born
  • Whether we were born with infirmities or challenges

The truths of how we entered life cannot be changed. We may spend money in therapy indefinitely and the truth of our family’s destinies will never change. If we were to honor what life has decided what would feel different?

What do we want on the holidays? “I wish my brother would be more generous.” “I love my sister, but I hate the way she is raising her children.” “I love my father, but he had no right to leave my mother!” What would happen if we simply honored life—or even bigger—destiny?

Ceremony and ritual are again finding their place in our families and communities. Rather than spending time bemoaning the flaws of your family members, consider starting the upcoming holiday season with your own pre-holiday ceremony to honor your family’s story.

You can do the following as visualization, but you may also find it helpful to construct your own ritual. Try to do this at home before you leave for your family gathering, or before your house is invaded by hoards of relatives.

Select representatives for your parents and all of your siblings, using any representation you choose: pebbles, candles, silverware. Start with the eldest to the youngest of your relatives. As you place the “representative” of each family member, trust your heart and make one simple statement. This is not a revisionist narrative: “My brother is the eldest, but he is juvenile, so we never consider him the oldest sibling.”

This ritual honors life. Simply state: “This is my eldest brother; life decided that he came first and that is why he is the oldest sibling.” If one is adopted, that is also a truth of life. “I was born from a mother and father and life decided that others would care for me.”

Perhaps there is something painful, “This represents my eldest brother. He died when he was a baby and it was too painful to speak about, but today I give him a place. I represent his rightful place in the family, he is the first-born, he died early, but he is my big brother. Even though destiny decided that we would not have the opportunity to know him, he is the first-born of my father and mother.”

Spending a few minutes engaging with the truths of your family history, even in this simple way, can actually ease our endless wish for everyone in our family to be different than they are. Connecting to Our Ancestral Past and Family Constellation may support your continuing journey to find the ancient path of the simple truths of life.

What a relief to honor the perfection of life and family.

Tags: Francesca Mason-Boring
About the Author

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2007, Julia was delighted to find out that “professional book recommender” was a job. She has been working in marketing and publicity with independent Bay Area publishers ever since. She joined North Atlantic Books in 2014. She lives with her husband and two very nice cats in Oakland.