7 Reasons I Love Visiting With Family

Broummana, Lebanon
Broummana, Lebanon

7 Reasons I Love Visiting With Family

In the last month, I’ve visited with family in two very different parts of the world, and I wanted to share with you why I loved these two family visits. In early March, I went to Lebanon to visit my parents, brothers, and extended family, and, in late March, we went to the US to visit my husband’s family. Although these trips were in places far apart from each other, the reasons I enjoyed the visits are very similar.

As part of being mindful of how I spend my time, I really paid attention to the visits I had and why they were so important and meaningful. Visiting family seems like something you do because it’s associated with a certain holiday or milestone. Sometimes you feel like you need to make these visits out of obligation or expectations. Sometimes you love making the trips and taking the effort. And, sometimes, you’re just so darn grateful for the opportunities and savor each moment. The latter is how I felt in the last month.

Here are the 7 reasons I loved visiting with family recently. I hope they inspire you to plan more visits!

Reason 1: My family is a part of my history
This sounds so obvious, but it’s really deeper than having people who are related to you. I’m talking about the family resemblance, the common cultural background, a country’s understood traditions, and the feeling of connectedness. When you’re around your immediate and extended family, you see where some of your mannerisms and points of reference come from. For example, in Lebanon, we’re a bit of loud family. We yell from room to room or outside to someone in the garden. The neighbors pretty much know what we’re up to! In my family in particular, we are bitterly honest with each other and we tell it like it is. For spouses and in-laws, this may seem harsh at times, but it’s what we’re used to and how we grew up. It’s done lovingly, really. Engaging in this banter made me understand that growing up like this was normal for me, but that it might not seem so normal to my nuclear family of my husband and two teens, or for my in-laws.

The other part about going home is the insight I gained into Lebanon’s history and hence, my heritage. In particular, this visit, I soaked up Lebanon’s Roman and Byzantine history as we visited some of the country’s UNESCO sites, Baalbek and Tyre (look for an upcoming post on these beautiful tourist attractions). On daily walks with my dad, I learned more about Lebanon’s modern history under the Ottoman Empire and under the French mandate. I understood a lot more about my country’s history and the reason behind the names of certain cities, Beirut streets, and traditions.

Reason 2: It’s important for your kids to see you visit family
When you take the time to visit your parents and extended family, it sends a message to your children about the importance of maintaining family ties. Actions speak louder than words in this case. It takes a huge effort for me to travel to Lebanon because of my anxiety. I’ve talked about this before in an earlier post. I need support from my doctor and therapist in order to make the trip successfully. My kids see me do this and they see how hard it is for me to go. But, they also know how happy it makes me, despite the stress. The values around the blessing of having a family are important for my kids to understand.

Reason 3: No one supports you like family
Unconditional love and support is the backbone of families, especially across generations. There are many times when I talk about parenting and other issues I’m having with my family members. They can be honest in ways that only family or close friends can be. And, they support your decisions, even though they recommend you do something else. They also support any initiatives, like blogging! Even though they don’t understand the intricacies of the blogging world, I’ve received so much support, in the form of photo props or  in the form of patience as I photograph my food and tourist sites – or when I ask for photos of me to be taken!

Reason 4: Connecting with family happens because of the time together
When you’re visiting from out of town, relatives take the time to come and see you. They clear their agenda and just want to spend time together. Relatives even come in from out of town and stay over. By definition, this means that you’re eating almost all of your meals together and you’re spending lazy afternoons in one another’s company. This is when you have time to go into deeper family stories and history. I find myself sharing more about myself and this sometimes encourages others to do the same. On these recent visits, I realized that a few family members have gone through issues that I’m going through and it made me connect more with them. Spending time with someone is like work experience: time has to pass for you to gain knowledge and understanding, and build great relationships.

Reason 5: I love being spoiled
When you don’t live near your immediate family, and visiting is a plane ride and many hours away, you are treated like a VIP. Period. This goes for visiting Lebanon where I don’t drive but get driven around. (I’m not quite ready to brave the traffic there.) I hardly do dishes and I certainly don’t cook. This is also true when I visit my sister-in-law (thank you!) who plans out all family meals and social activities. I know she spends days and hours planning and prepping food and making sure that we are comfortable in her home. There were parties and gatherings held in our honor, and it’s nice to get the red carpet treatment of getting picked up from the airport and driven back. It seems like the perfect time for the hosts to also explore their own country and cities and they love playing tourist there as well, so it’s a win-win.

Reason 6: Being with family highlights the different ways we live
Again, this sounds like an obvious reason, but let me explain. When I visited Lebanon, I didn’t drive and so I could observe how others drove. I could see that traffic was horrendous and that there is no reliable or expansive public transit system. This means that people are a lot more stressed and sit in hours of traffic. I felt so lucky that we have a fairly efficient subway system in Toronto. Another thing I noticed is that my parents, retired, have a different lifestyle from me. I have kids, I’m running around all day and running a household. They have more leisure time and it got me thinking ahead to my upcoming empty nest years and retirement: I better find some things to fill my time! My sister-in-law also had some insight into the upcoming years: let time and events happen as they will, without worrying about them today.

Reason 7: Staying with family means new food ideas and habits
I had to put this in because, as a mom who cooks and bakes a lot for her family, I’m always looking for new ideas. My mom is an amazing and efficient cook: in fact, if you sleep in past  8am, you’ve pretty much missed out on learning how she makes a certain dish. On my last trip, a friend had asked me for one of my mom’s recipes, and I had promised step-by-step instructions, along with photos. I learned quite a few other recipes and new dishes that I’m excited to add to my family repertoire here in Toronto. My sister-in-law is also an amazing cook and planner. I always come home with new recipes; this time it was for a strawberry mousse.

West Hartford, CT
West Hartford, CT

I’m so grateful for these last two family visits…comment below and let me know what you love most about visiting with family!

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6 thoughts on “7 Reasons I Love Visiting With Family

  1. This is a beautiful article. I wish that I had this type of relationship with my family. You are so lucky. I do remember however, when we were kids, that your brothers drove us crazy. Your Mom was an incredible cook. I always felt welcome in your home.

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle, for your lovely compliments about my family. I appreciate your commenting on this post because not all families are the same. I can tell you that I loved coming to your home as a kid because your parents and uncle were always so nice to me and I learned a lot from them, especially about American culture! Have a great weekend. xoxo Mary

  2. What a beautiful way of expressing these sentiments. I can see why you call your blog “sweet life style.” So happy that you enjoy; your kind thoughts and generous feelings do not go unnoticed.

    Patsy
    (Sister-in-law)

    1. Hi Patsy, visiting you is a highlight of our year and you go out of the way to make us feel welcome, special, and loved! Thank you xoxo Mary

    1. LOL! Most of the photos I’ve taken in West Hartford over the years have been fantastic…this spring was just a bit late in coming. Always so much fun to see you and your family! xoxo Mary

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