Should Family Day be spent with family?

Photo by: Mike Scheid

Family Day is an annual holiday traditionally associated with spending time with those an individual considers family. 

While Family Day may not be a national holiday, it still usually means a day off for most individuals living in New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario. This year, the holiday took place on Feb. 20.

But are people really spending the holiday with family, or is Family Day just a relaxing day off? Certain individuals take the perspective that Family Day is meant to mean time spent with loved ones, and to reflect upon familial values. 

“Family Day may be a leisurely day off from work and school, but it’s meant to be an opportunity to reflect on the importance of spending quality time with our families, and feeling gratitude for the deep bonds and connections we share with one another,” wrote Nirmala Raniga for The Province.

This comes at a point in human history where traditional quality “family time” is sparse. A 2018 study found that American families spend an average of 37 minutes with their loved ones on weekdays, which is in great contrast to the three hours a day American adults spend on social media.

Others believe that people should not have the pressure of spending holidays with family, citing concerns of family toxicity as a major reason.

“Feeling powerless toward an obligation to return home, regardless of the impacts on our mental health, has far-reaching consequences,” wrote Christina Wyman for The Guardian. “It can affect peoples’ finances, their confidence and their relationships. Not to mention the fact that people overstate the importance of going home when it comes to maintaining a meaningful connection with our families.”

So, is it really necessary to spend Family Day with family, and how are Brock students implementing their thoughts on the matter into how they spent their day?

“Family Day’s never really been celebrated in my family,” said Colton Weaver, a second-year concurrent education student. “We’re kind of like a ‘only get together on major holidays’ kind of family. Even with where my parents work, a lot of the time they work on Family Day because they’re in fields where they don’t get the day off.”

Weaver used some of his time on Family Day to engage with his personal interests. Despite this, he added that he was able to make time for his family within the day.

“Since I had work off, I just did whatever hobbies I have—you know, reading, going to the gym and that kind of stuff. My family and I had dinner together, so I guess that’s where we reconnected,” said Weaver.

Weaver doesn’t see a problem with taking time for yourself on the holiday, but hopes that those who feel disconnected from their families might consider spending Family Day with their loved ones.

“I think it’s fine to do whatever you want to do—but, I would encourage people who don’t see their family normally to actually take part in spending it with their family,” said Weaver. “I’m close with my family—maybe not in person, but I do talk to them over social media and by sending letters. It’s not like I’m totally detached from them. I would recommend it for people who have family problems to take advantage of the day.”

Family Day does not mean the same thing to everyone. With so many unique types of relationships, spending time with family can look different for each individual—and this especially applies to Family Day.

“I’d say typically, it’s usually a free day off,” said Alex DeCicco, a second-year dramatic arts student. “Even back when I was in Thunder Bay with my actual family, it’s always been a day off that I could take to just relax.”

DeCicco believes that quality time does not necessarily need to follow a textbook definition of “family.” DeCicco’s Family Day might have been spent at a distance from his family back home, but connections with loved ones were still present throughout the day.

“This Family Day, it turned out that [my girlfriend] and I were both off work, so we got to spend the day together. So, it didn’t feel like we were doing a Family Day activity, but realistically, it turned out that way because we were both spending time with each other,” said DeCicco.

DeCicco spent much of the day watching videos and playing Minecraft with his girlfriend. He added that the pair spent a lot of time with their pets, as they consider them to be family.

While he doesn’t think strict family time on the holiday should be a necessity, DeCicco admits that taking some time to think about loved ones is valuable.

“I think many people do have families that are not close to them, either symbolically or physically,” he said. “So, it could be difficult for some people to spend time with their family, but—certainly, in the name of the day is the word ‘family,’ so I figure that if you can’t spend time with your family, you’re at least thinking about them.”

With so many perspectives on not only Family Day but on family in general, there is no definite consensus on any sort of “correct” way to spend the holiday. With each family being unique in terms of relationships and dynamics, it’s possible that every person’s Family Day is different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *