Family means different things to different people. For me, family is everything. I grew up in a traditional family of four in the small town of Clinton, New Jersey. My dad worked and my mom stayed home until my brother and I were in school full-time. She then worked only during school hours, so I had the luxury of seeing my mom before I went to school and when I got home. We went on one or two family vacations each year, (usually to Wildwood Crest) and spent a lot of quality time together playing all kinds of games – both board games and imaginary ones. It was an amazing time in my life.
I feel very fortunate to grow up the way I did, especially after I started teaching and saw the lack of family that some of my students had. I was so naive that I believed everyone grew up the way I did. I was so very wrong. Teaching really made me appreciate my childhood.
It was not only my parents and brother who helped shaped my sense of family. Many memories include my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, niece and nephew. We truly loved and enjoyed each other and still do to this day despite arguments, disagreements and hurt feelings. We have worked through those things and try not to dwell on the past. Most of all, we have learned to forgive each other as Jesus tells us to do (Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others who sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others of their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins).
My immediate family is now my husband, whom I love and adore, and our little dog, Scraps. I am blessed to have married into a wonderful family with the same values and beliefs as my own. We love to laugh and have a good time and enjoy delicious food and drinks. And, both families get along really well, especially our mothers!
I started thinking about some of my favorite TV families. As you will see, they all share family values and struggles but in the end, they are a family and cannot be pulled apart. That’s how I feel about my own family. Through all of our ups and downs, if one of us needed the other, we would be there, no questions asked. That is how these families are too.
The Ingalls Family – Hands down this would be my first choice. When I would watch “Little House on the Prairie” as a child, I pictured myself as Laura and tried to be like her. I loved the Ingalls family’s sense of right and wrong, helping others and enjoying a simple but peaceful life. They knew right from wrong and sometimes struggled making the right decision. It was something that we can all relate to – when you know what you should do but want to do something else. The family truly cared for each other and the show promoted great family values.
The Bower/Micelli Family – While I did not realize it at the time, this was one of the first non-traditional family I grew to adore (besides the Brady Bunch). The show featured a male housekeeper (Tony Danza) who moves into his employer’s house with his daughter. His employer is a successful business woman with a young son and spunky grandmother. The family dynamic was there from the start. They, too, thought of each other above themselves and got themselves into many silly or awkward situations. In the end, they always forgave each other, realized that everyone makes mistakes and relied on their love and respect for each other as a family. It also taught me that people who are not blood can also be called “family”.
The Robertson Family – The first time I saw my husband watching “Duck Dynasty” I wondered what in the world he was watching. I came in during the middle of an episode during the first season and I saw a bunch of dirty men with beards wearing camouflage sitting in a duck blind. What I did not see (and shame on me for judging) was the strong commitment these men and their family have to God. The show is goofy/funny and features the relationships between siblings, wives, in-laws, husbands, wives and kids. Many episodes were filmed around their church and community service, which by all accounts the family did before, during and after the show. They do not curse, they have a family dinner at the end of each show with a prayer and there are always lessons learned. The first two seasons were my favorite, but their calmness and dedication to each other and above all God has been a true inspiration in my life.
The Reagan Family – Right now, I am obsessed with Blue Bloods (Friday nights on CBS). I love the way they have Sunday dinners together (reminds me of my Italian upbringing) and also have a strong sense of right and wrong. They remind me of my family in that sometimes they yell and argue with each other, but family loyalty and forgiveness is always stronger than the disagreement. I can also relate to many of the characters on the show who try hard to promote and model good morals and values despite our society.
I know how blessed I am to have such a great family. We have our flaws, believe me, but I choose to focus on our unity, resilience and love for one another over all else. That is what makes us strong. That is what makes us a family.
Who are some of your favorite TV families? What do you treasure most about your own family?