One of life’s greatest blessings, but also one of its greatest challenges, is family. Just like every individual is unique in our own way, no two families are the same. Some consider their closest family to be their blood relatives. For others it may be their friends or non-blood relations.

Some families are small, others large, some loud or quiet. Many wild, others tame. Some get along well, others, not so much. Some are each others’ bosses and co-workers. Each family is different and each is special no matter what challenges there may be within.

It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life and to forget the importance of making time to spend with your loved ones. Often birthdays or special holidays, like Father’s Day, can be used as a good excuse to forget about your to-do list and go visit a family member who you haven’t seen in a while. Or to plan a gathering, whether it be an afternoon drink or play date, or an evening spent by the bonfire. Spend time kicking a soccer ball around with your little ones.

Sometimes these special days fall on the last sunny day before more forecasted rain, so taking a break isn’t an option for farmer Dads. So instead of going to the park to play, you can sit in the yard and watch daddy and grandpa get the seeder ready for the last round of soybean planting. It doesn’t take much to ignite the light of excitement in a tiny human’s eyes. Just being close and a part of each others day to day activities can be enough to remind you how important it is to spend time as a family.

I hope all the fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, and all other fatherlike figures, were able to spend some sort of quality time with their families this past weekend. You are role models to your children, young or old. Children look to the men in their lives for guidance, protection and strength. The pride I see in my little one’s eyes when he is able to help daddy with a task in the yard or when he gets to go for a ride in the tractor is heart warming. He absorbs everything like a sponge. It’s a reminder that we as adults can help teach a little one how important family relationships are. Love, respect, caring, are virtues which can be learned from simply being a part of a special family.

As we begin the crazy summer season of holidays, vacations, weddings, bonfires, etc., be sure to pause every chance you get and simply absorb the feelings that fill your heart when surrounded by those you love. Be in the moment, and be grateful for every second spent with family and friends. Make time to plan a special weekend getaway or a gathering. Soak in the smiles, laughter and craziness.

We may be able to choose our friends, but we don’t always get to choose our family. So, if you have been blessed with a good one, make the most of it. Don’t let trivial challenges get in the way of the true love and comfort that can only be gained from the bond of a family. Don’t hold grudges. Life is too short!