TODAY IN HISTORY:
Birthdays: George Washington, Robert Young, Drew Barrymore, Julius "Dr.J" Irving, Edward Kennedy
1932 - The Purple Heart Medal was reinstated
1980 - "The Miracle on Ice" - The U.S. Hockey Team beat the Soviets at the Olympics at Lake Placid by 4-3
One of the birthdays today is actor Robert Young, who played the father on one of my favorite shows from childhood - "Father Knows Best". He was an insurance salesman, married to Mrs. Anderson (Jane Wyatt - also the mother of Spock on the Original Star Trek series), with 3 children - Betty (Princess), James, Jr. (Bud), and Kathy (Kitten).
"Father Knows Best" was the epitome of the wholesome American family as portrayed by television of the 1950s. I grew up with this image in my mind and, because my family was a real life doppleganger of the show, I saw this as a black and white version of my life. I had an older sister, an older brother and I was the youngest daughter vying for the attention of my parents. There were many times that Kathy's problem was a mirror of my problems. Poor Kathy, the hi-jinks she got up too!
Looking back nearly 40 years later I see how cliche the plots were, how these situation comedies (sitcoms) simplified life to an almost absurd degree. Life's problems cannot be solved in half an hour, most dad's don't have sage advice on the tips of their tongues, and the "nuclear family" has been torn asunder in the modern world.
There was something about those family shows that defined the term "family" for me. Though now I believe that the idea of a "nuclear family" is outdated and restrictive, I would often feel orphaned because I was no longer a member of a traditional family. This concept of family was ingrained into my generation and it is something we should overcome in this day and age for our peace of mind.
I no longer have a "nuclear family". My parents and my siblings are gone, I am not married and I have no children of my own. My family now consists of very good friends, an adorable little Yorkipoo named Pixel and an ancient Aussie bird called Peter Pan. In my "golden years" I have made adjustments to the concept of family and it has brought me a sense of belonging and peace.
Family is not what someone else says it is. Family is the love, caring and support of people who love you, and those people don't necessarily need to be your blood relations. The next time you're watching an old family sitcom on television keep that in mind.
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