That’s me long time ago, the youngest one in the photo with my 2 older cousins, my Great Grandmother next to me and my mother behind all of us.
I am the last (almost) of the people that I grew up with. My immediate family. I say that as living away from those that are left, living 1/2 way around the world for all purposes I am the last one! I think many expats during the holidays can feel that way. Many of my friends live away from their home country and family. I see many comments/post reflecting the sadness and loneliness of the holidays! I am the oldest of my siblings, and 3rd oldest of my 10 first cousins. I grew up in a close family where family was everything and important. I have letters where my grandparents wrote their family as far away as Europe. Before the internet or telephone they would make the effort to stay in touch. I may hear (email) from my sister, that growing up we were the closest, once a year and never emails back. My bother passed away number of years ago. My baby sister is a busy person with her church. I think it maybe just the sign of the times! My sister Beth husband Dennis( more a brother than brother-in-law) loves family and we do stay in touch. I have a wonderful family in America, we love and miss each other. We all can get busy in life. Just dont forget to smell the roses along the way!
Belongingness the need to belong
Belongingness is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or a sports team, humans tend to have an ‘inherent’ desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give, and receive attention to, and from, others.
Belonging is a strong and inevitable feeling that exists in human nature. To belong or not to belong can occur due to choices of one’s self, or the choices of others. Not everyone has the same life and interests, hence not everyone belongs to the same thing or person. Without belonging, one cannot identify themselves as clearly, thus having difficulties communicating with and relating to their surroundings.
Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary argue that belongingness is such a fundamental human motivation that we feel severe consequences of not belonging. If it wasn’t so fundamental, then lack of belonging wouldn’t have such dire consequences on us. This desire is so universal that the need to belong is found across all cultures and different types of people
Growing up, both my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles would visit their parents and siblings for vacations, holidays. Made effort to stay close. Required driving, US Mail, and telephone (long distance phone calls then were expensive). My grandfather immigrated from Bohemia in the 1890s and when an old man flew back to see family back in Europe. All required more effort, and often money compared to today with internet and almost free international calls. Digital photos that can be shared free!
The oldest of the 10 first cousin David, when he was dying, felt alone! We talked many times the last several months before he died of cancer and was sad about how family had forgotten him. He was also the last of my family, for me, that we could talk about our families when they lived in Fairhope, Alabama and he worked for my Dad so we had much in common, love of family, horses, boats and many vacations together as kids. “Need to belong is what makes us human”. Holidays were important to David. He would cook and help make everyones holiday Happy. David was single, but during the holidays would cook a turkey even if he was alone at the end of his life! “There is growing evidence that the interpersonal factor of belongingness is strongly associated with depressive symptoms. The impression of low relational value is consciously experienced as reduced self-esteem. Reduced self-esteem is a fundamental element of depressive symptoms” wikipedia
We all live busy lives but we all spend our time how we want too. We spend our time on what is important to us. We are NOT busier than generations in the past. We just have different things that we spend time on.
For me it is understandable that I live away and not home with them for holidays and so dont have much in common and easily forgotten. I am blessed at my age because I have small kids WOW I know! They do take up much of my time and busy making family memories for them. One of the values of asian culture that attracted me to Thailand was the love of family and importance of family in daily life.
What can you do?
What can you do if you are an expat or old person and friends family do not care about staying in touch? Nothing you can do will change them. NOTHING. You have to be yourself, make new friends and contacts. The internet can let your explore the world. I have met and write people from all over the world all faiths! Will you still miss them YES!
My great Uncle Bill did a family tree and we can trace my family back to 980 England. He was well todo and when he did this it was actual traveling to tax office etc to look at public records. I finish or updated the tree about 15 years ago. Sadly, when I am gone no one that is left in my family will know anything about it as no ones cares now!
This not about sadness but how I think some in todays generations have misplaced the value of family and knowing who you came from. My humanity is based not just on my faith/religion but the example my grandparents, parents gave me. Love of family. love of travel, love of nature, love of the journey, love of reading, love of learning/understanding, value of work, never give up, and even love of photography. The man in the photo with the field camera is my great grandfather Sam Beaty. My oldest son is named after him. On the bottom row on the left is Jack Beaty. My mother youngest sister is Jackie and I am Jackie. The young girl is my grandmother Harriet Arzalia Beaty. He mother, next to Sam Beaty, name was Harriet and we had 5 generations name Harriet. The boy in the middle is Harvey Beaty, My brother looked very much like him. When I was young and trying to make a place in life, be successful at work, easy to lose sight of the people you love the most. As I have become older many regrets of ME not choosing to give my time to my family. I am guilty too!
If you have a Mac/Apple you get a free app Facetime . You can call anywhere in the world free if on the internet! Skype is also a free app. If the person on the other end has Skype, that call is also free if on the internet. If not, very very cheap plans for international calls. I have it Thailand to the US is about $3 for every 3 months. each month you get 60 min of call time.
Reach out and touch someone
Early civilizations considered both exile and death as equal punishments. Individuals in other countries strive to belong so much that being exiled or shunned from their society is the biggest dishonor. Wikipedia
Relationships missing regular contact but characterized by strong feelings of commitment and intimacy will also fail to satisfy the need. Just knowing that a bond exists may be emotionally comforting, yet it would not provide a feeling of full belongingness if there is a lack of interaction between the persons. The belongingness hypothesis proposes two main features. First, people need constant, positive, personal interactions with other people. Second, people need to know that the bond is stable, there is mutual concern for one another, and that there will be a continuation of that attachment into the future. This means that the need to belong is not just a need for intimate attachments or a need for connections, but that the perception of the bond is just as important as the bond itself. They need to know that the other person cares about his or her well-being and loves him or her.