On the 3rd. day of Christmas, a Jamaican gave to me

The Gift of Extended Family

In recent years Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism. For Christians it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many non-Christians celebrate Christmas too as a family time for sharing and showing love. Sharing with family should be a continuous thing.
An old familiar adage says: You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going.
In his song ‘Rat Race’, the singer Bob Marley says:
Don’t forget your history
Know your destiny
In the abundance of water
The fool is thirsty

I believe knowing our identity is very important for mental wellness. Knowing our history, the things that have impacted on and shaped us and our ancestors to make us who we are is crucial for survival in today’s stressful society. This information is usually passed on by our elders.

An integral part of knowing ourselves is the link with family – the support and encouragement we get from them, even the criticisms can sometimes spur us on to look at ourselves and try to do better – ‘fix-up’ as we would say in some sections of the black community. I also believe that the problems we are facing in society today are a direct result of the breakdown of the family.

Nurturing Relationships are Vital

Young parents are not as dependent nowadays on elders to provide support and childcare which isn’t always a good thing. Some people for a variety of reasons don’t have elders to help them care for their children, but where those elders are there, often they feel redundant and surplus to requirement.

Both grandparents and children miss out on a valuable relationship which is good all round for mental well-being and provides stability. Values and culture are not passed on as they should be. While some parents, including single parents, do manage to juggle work and child rearing successfully, the evidence that many don’t is all around us in the shape of out of control, directionless youth who are filling the prisons and mental hospitals.

We are family

The value of the extended family has been eroded as our modern way of life takes up our time. Women are more independent and able to go out to work, which is a good thing if properly balanced with the needs of the family. We are more mobile and able to travel further afield so the family has become fragmented with family members being spread far and wide around the world.

Time which should be spent strengthening links with our extended families, sharing a meal, having a conversation, sharing a problem, encouraging and motivating, is spent at work just trying to earn enough to pay the bills, in front of the television, on the computer on social network sites or playing on computer games. The victims of our current lifestyle are our children.

Having the support of an extended family enhances mental wellness. Anything which bridges the gap across the generations and brings families closer together is a good thing in my eyes.

Gift Giver Deanne Heron, Foster Parent & Writer

Deanne’s website

Deanne Heron is qualified as a Counsellor and work part time for a local community group teaching counselling. She is also a writer and have written over 20 comedy short stories about black family life in England, most of which have been published by The Jamaica Observer. Her stories are written in English with Jamaican patois dialogue and capture the unique humour of black people in an extended family setting.

Deanne just completed a wonderful book that is a collection of stories around the social institution of partner.
Further details can be found at: partner money stories

About the author


I am an entrepreneur whose focus is on helping small businesses deploy internet marketing tools to leverage new customers and profits. I believe in the survival of the knitted, and thus champion those who are making a difference in our community.