My son, his wife Laura, the grandkids, Grace, Luke and Scarlet and the family dog, Tucker are now back in northern New Jersey after spending a few days with us. We also got to see them again on Christmas Day along with Laura’s family .  My brother from Pittsburgh is traveling to Upper Wisconsin to visit his in-laws, and the brother in Chicago is enjoying having all four of his children home together for an extended period of time.

The Saturday evening before Christmas we had the opportunity to gather with my wife’s family for dinner.  As I enjoyed everyone’s company and the spirit of the season, I thought about a phone call I received from my cousin this time last year.  Unfortunately I don’t get to see him very often, but we do stay in touch.  His phone call was for two purposes – first to wish me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and secondly to let me know that our Uncle had passed on.  The resultant conversation let us share memories of good times visiting with him when we were growing up.  Before ending our call my cousin said something that I had not even thought about, “Rick, you know what Bob’s passing means, right?”  Being unsure of what he meant I responded, “Not really tell me.”  Quietly he said, “It means you are now the family patriarch”  It hit me.  I was stunned.  It was something that I had never even thought about.  Yes, I often thought about family, but not from this perspective.  For that matter, do any of us think about that type of thing? When I was younger I looked to my father and other adult members of the family for advise, counsel, direction and sometimes forgiveness. Now that elder is me.

As I prepared for this week’s visit and the family dinner, I thought and read a lot about family.  I came across a blog by Rachel Hoeing ( and I wanted to share an excerpt with you as you celebrate Christmas or whatever holiday serves to bring your family together.  I guess it’s something we patriarchs do.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!


From Rachael Hoeing’s, “My Wish for You This Holiday Season”

My wish is that you are grateful for your parents. I know not everyone has a perfect relationship, and we all have disputes, but hug your parents this holiday season if they are still here. Tell them you love them. Tell them you appreciate all they did for you and might still do. Tell them that you are happy they are still here for you to enjoy the holidays with. Tell them you forgive them if there were difficult times in the past, and ask them to do the same for you. There will come a day when they are no longer with you for Christmas. It sucks, and there’s no going back. Nothing will ever be the same. Most of us never know that the “last Christmas” is going to be the last Christmas.

My wish is that you focus on your children. Some of you reading this have lost children of your own and know all too well how important this wish can be. I wish that you give your children love, you give them experiences, and you give them memories. Tangible gifts are always amazing, but my wish for you is that they are secondary.

My wish is that you tell your children what the holidays are all about. My wish is that you share your convictions, morals, or religious beliefs with them, and explain to them why you celebrate the way you do. Share your traditions, your family recipes, your family prayers, songs, or stories.

My wish is that you are grateful for your spouse or significant other. Even with their imperfections and nuances, my wish is that you are able to see the good. Many have lost a spouse, and statistics show that half of marriages end in divorce. If this pertains to you, my wish is that your relationship status this holiday season is exactly where it needs to be to lead you on a new path of joy.

My wish is that you show your children that family is important. Be mindful of listening ears when discussing holiday plans. You are modeling for your children what they will do 30 years from now. When you state that you don’t want to travel to see anyone, or you state that you don’t want to take time out to visit two or three different houses full of relatives, you are showing them what is acceptable when they are in your shoes one day. Each year doesn’t have to be stressful, but do what you can to be with those you love. Remember that you will be the grandparent one day. You will be the one who is yearning to spend time with your children and grandchildren. How do you want them to include you at the holidays? Set an example for the future.

My wish is that you will be grateful for the love surrounding you and let those close to you know it.

My wish is that for this holiday season, you let go of grudges and instead make joyful memories. Cherish this holiday season even with those whom it might be hard to do so.

My wish for you is love, kindness, forgiveness, and above all … family.