There are many ceremonies of our Lakota people that are still practiced in this day and age and preserved through the years. There are also many of these ceremonies that are exploited. I guess I am not really here to talk about that this week. I just wanted to make that point, to start with.
Other than ceremonies we have many traditions that we practice and have been throughout the years.
One of these is the memorial dinner which is held one year after a loved one has passed. Sometimes, or most of the times the "Wiping Of The Tears" is performed at this memorial and it is time for the mourning to end.
If anyone reading is not familiar, the Memorial Dinner is a celebration of sorts of that loved one's life. Songs are sung, words are said, a feast follows with a giveaway of many wonderful things, including starquilts and such. Many families save up all year for this one last celebration of that person's life.
Which is really what I want to talk about.
A 6 letter word either way.
And a very strong word.
I often joke that "You choose your friends not your family." Or that my family puts the "dis" in dysfunction, or the "funk" in dysfunction. Or there is an old joke that we are the "Bright Family" when someone does something that is not so bright. It's all good and fun. I like to joke and laugh around, as does my family.
But for real, FAMILY is a very powerful part of our lives. I know many times when I lived off the reservation and I felt something in my life was missing, it was family. Which resulted in monstrous phone bills.
Many times when I felt there was nowhere else to turn, there they were.
Or sometimes when I am home alone and everything is peaceful, someone shows up to visit and eat. It's all good. Tiole is the way to be.
Sometimes when I am sad from watching some dumb, sad chick flick, my family laughs at me and makes me feel dumb for crying to Toy Story, uh I mean, uh...Legends of The Fall.
Sometimes when I....I mean my kids lock my keys in the car, my part of the family that knows how to open car doors without keys, will help me out.
Or sometimes, when I am short on change in the grocery store, someone in my family will put something back from my cart and tell me I really don't need those Swiss Cake Rolls.
Then there's the time when a cat attacked me from a nearby bush and made me scream and run, (last year) who else was there to laugh at me but my family.
Aw...and when I got married, who else but my brothers took a pool on how long it would last. By the way, my brother Steve wanted me to mention that there really isn't a pool, but if there was and anyone was interested, it would be 25 dollars in a money order along with a self addressed stamped envelope. Such jokers, they are!
And my family is so great that if I fall, they race to run over and put their arms widely spread out in front of me and scream "SAFE!" Of course I was safe, I just fell on ice....at night....in the middle of a deep freeze.
OR the time my little sister was so thankful on Earth day when I told her how simple can she be to not know how to plant a baby pine tree that she hit me in the face with it.
Or my other little sister who was so concerned when she painted the wall with toothpaste that she cleaned it up all by herself....with my suede jacket!
The best was when my 4 year old little sister and I was stuck on a bumper boat because I didn't know how to steer it. So my family rallied around us and soaked us until the guy at the park jumped in and rescued us from drowning.
My family is awesome. Our ties bind us. I treasure every minute I get to laugh, cry, hug, be around, and fall down around them.
Treasure every minute you get with your family...so you are not one day sitting at a memorial dinner and regretting the time you didn't spend with them.
Honor your family, even if they put the "funk" in dysfunction.
Love your family because they love you. (That doesn't mean snag your cousin! We are Lakota, not hillbilly! HEEY!)
Embrace your family, because if nobody else is there, they will be.
I didn't choose my family, but I am damn thankful for all of them.