Originally posted on Medium.

As the holidays get closer, we find ourselves really reflecting on family. What does it mean to us? What makes our families unique and beautiful?

It is with these thoughts in mind that we wanted to pause for a moment to share a few stories from the Mazu family.

Family is more than who you’re related to

About once a year when my sister and I were kids, our family and family friends from Winnipeg (who also have a boy and girl around the same ages) would go camping. We’re talking real camping with tents, everything cooked on the fire, no video games, campers, etc. Us kids started a tradition of whittling wooden boats to race in the creeks. It became a mainstay of our camping vacations and we would carve boats and bring them each time we met up.

Recently we met up for my sister’s wedding. Our friends brought their significant others because they wanted to show them where we used to camp, carve some boats, and continue that tradition as that is one of our most vivid memories from growing up.

Despite our friends both going to school in the states and us rarely seeing each other, both my sister and I are in their wedding parties. Goes to show how family is more of a state than physical relation and time/distance doesn’t really matter, it’s more about the memories you create together.

P.S. I think I still have a boat from those camping trips that will likely make a unique little wedding gift.

— Jace

The glue that holds everything together

My mother is the most incredible woman I know. A little less than 5 years ago my father had a stroke. And it just rocked me — seeing this incredibly strong person reduced to mumbles and unable to move. I can only imagine what my mother felt, how scared and unsure she was. Through it all she meant the vows they made 40 years before — she left her job and continues to care for him full time. Her love of him and our family is beyond measure.

— Stephanie

Family traditions

Every Christmas we decorate 2 trees. We have the ‘kid tree’ which is real and the one with all the ornaments from when they were young, and the ‘mom tree’ which is artificial and matches the house. My husband does the lights and our 3 boys put on their special decorations. I put on the beads with the ‘help’ from my boys — they try to wrap me up in the beads. As they get older it gets harder to escape.

We always listen to music. My husband and I have a special Christmas song and when it comes on we stop decorating and dance. The boys would tease us when they were younger. Now they just wait it out.

— Tracey

We believe that our families are our roots. Supporting us, helping us grow, shaping us. And whatever our family looks like, whether it is the family we are born into or the family we choose, they are the place we can always come back to.

Your family is beautiful.

Download Mazu to share your picture or story: Android | iOS

Sign up for our newsletter