By Fred Cavaiani

This is the final week. The holiday of Christmas will soon be here. So will the New Year of 2018. Christmas gatherings have been happening and in the next week there will be many more. It is like the last two weeks of each year becomes occasions for gathering with family and friends. Whether we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or whatever other faith dimension we might have, these last two weeks of the year have become a time for remembering family, friends, God and what our relationship is like with all. We are nudged into remembering what is important in life. We remember again who is important to us in our lives. It seems like the end of December becomes a time for reflection and connection. Who and What is important to us?

This past Saturday evening my daughter and her husband had a wonderful gathering in their comfortable and loving home in Northern Oakland County. They were continuing a tradition of gathering old friends of ours which we had hosted for many years each December. My wife and I have known these friends for over 45 years. Two of them I have known since high school. We attended each other's weddings, have been together for many gatherings over many years. The age of the people was from 65 to 92. It was really a gathering of the "old people." As I looked at this gathering of old friends in the beautiful home of our daughter and son-in-law with their four young daughters and our oldest daughter joining us with her son and daughter I was truly inspired. Everyone in the room have known each other for years. Our daughters grew up knowing every person in this room. My son and his wife texted that they wished they could be here. They are both teachers in Missouri.

I looked over the room and wondered: 'Here we are all still alive. It will not be long when one of us will be absent from these hallowed gatherings because of a transition to the next life.' For over 45 years this group of people have been very close to each other. We have our political differences but it has never interfered with our friendship and our love for each other. It is like a quiet agreement among us to not engage in useless conflicting discussions. Each person in the room knows that they could call anyone in the room for help. When one person ends up sick or in the hospital they know there is an extended family that is concerned.

I then wondered how is it that we are still alive? What has been the ingredient to have this group live such long lives? I reminisced and we have the pictures of all of us gathered together over so many years. I then remember a study of a small group of people in an upper New York village. It focused on an Italian group of people in this village who lived beyond any expectations and far outlived the people in the surrounding towns. The study made about this group is that they had great compassion and connections with each other. This was the ingredient that helped them to live such long lives. I then had a light bulb go on inside of me. We are like this village. We have all remained connected to each other. None of us are the examples of perfect exercise and perfect healthy eating. But we all have stayed connected to one another.

This remembering has caused me to realize that harmony and longevity are connected. We all need one another to lead a harmonious life and a long life. As we get older we see the need for positive connection and friendships. Hanging on to resentments and judgments of other people are useless and unhealthy.

There were other people invited to this party. But the ones who came were all the older ones who realized the importance of seeing each other again. It was like an evening of senior reminiscing and sharing. People from 77 to 92 drove a long distance just to be together with each other. The warm greetings and positive compassionate sharing with one another was a tremendous inspiration to me. Maybe there is something to be learned from having long term friends who have always been there for each other. But these friendships have been based upon putting aside differences and bringing love and compassion to one another. I think this is the meaning of Christmas. It is the meaning of having a world that is connected with each other. It is the meaning of any genuine religious, spiritual, social and family gatherings.

Merry Christmas everyone. Happy Holidays everyone. Whatever you are celebrating, do it with gratitude and love and compassion for all. It will bring you into an inner freedom and a profound experience of peace and joy.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Dec 19, 2017


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