Yesterday, being the “puente” or “bridge” part of the long weekend, meant that schools were shut, and many people made the most of the opportunity to get together as a family . There cannot be many people anywhere on earth who have not heard of the Spanish love of family and their habit of coming together, often in very large numbers, when ever the opportunity arrises.
Lucky for me, although my family is considerably smaller than that of most of my neighbours, my two daughters and son-in-law descended in true spanish style, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch together. It seems to me that this habit of eating a family meal together – including as many aunts, uncles, grandparents, children and grandchildren as possible – is something that the average family here holds as the single most important thing to do.
They will shut their shops, leave their work and often travel hours back to their home town , village or city to be amongst their own for one glorious shared meal. And this meal will go on for hours, and be filled with laugher and family talk. What I love about this, is the generally held idea that nothing else is as important as this; time spent with the family. Forget that maybe a few extra euros, now normally very much-needed, could have been earned; forget for the day that project in the office; forget your painting, your craft……..this is time to be where you want to be most: with the family you love and feel connected to.
Here in Andalucía, there is still relatively little movement of families, often for generations. There have of course been several periods of economic troubles which have forced men and women abroad to earn money for their families back home. This is a practice that has again become more common, as local employment becomes ever harder. But generally, families have remained together in the towns in which they were raised…and the sense of a “home town” is very strong.
So, my rather smaller family arrived, we caught up, we ate, we generally enjoyed the opportunity to be together again. The street outside my house filled with cars as the relatives of all my neighbours arrived to do much the same thing. My new canvas sat in my studio unlooked at…………family really is the most important thing of all.
There was a time in my life when economics and other circumstances forced me to tip my life/ work balance way too far over to the work end of the scales…………and it took quite a while to work out how this could be changed. To remember what the priorities should be. In the end, the answer was really very easy: simplify. Live in a way that is comfortable, and enjoyable, but not so expensive or complicated that you have to work most of your time to support it. If you can´t afford that expensive sofa, settle for the cheaper option, or better still make a beautiful new throw for your old one. Learn not to waste things, because earning the money to replace them wastes something even more important than things : your time. And we have so little of it . “Life is short” is such a well-worn cliché, but for good reason. Nobody ever found themselves upon their death-bed and wished they´d spent more time at the office.
So, here I am with the people I love, and no, I don´t want to get started on my new painting. The canvas will be there on Monday. My daughters and son-in-law will be returned to their own homes all too soon……..so I plan on enjoying their company as much as I can for these few wonderful days.
Enjoy your day too.