I often think of the kinkeepers in my family...
The ones who cared enough to bring us together in the name of family, even though Auntie Rummy* and cousin Rani* can be annoying, especially together.
(*actual names and events have been changed to protect privacy)
The ones who made the recipes in the honour of others, even though it feels like it’s stuck in another era... molded Jello salad, anyone?
The ones who tell the stories again and again, regardless if anyone is really listening.
The ones who added to a tradition by contemporizing it, expanding it, building upon it.
The ones who decided to forgo a tradition for the health of future generations.
Mostly, I think of the ones who are no longer here physically. The ones who inherited their kinkeeping duties from those who are no longer here... or those who took on kinkeeping duties in order to keep the torch lit in their part of the world.
Why I Kinkeep
I do what I do in honour of them: as a way to bring them to the present and as a way to bridge generations together. To ground my children in an otherwise ungrounded world - to give them a sense of place and space. So that they know they belong to something, particularly when they feel like they don’t belong anywhere else.
This is a common tale of the “in between”: the children of and the parents of. The well meaning, the well intended, the family glue. The ampersand ("&") in Root & Seed.
But Let's Get Real
With this being said, who’s kidding who? Family can be f***ing hard.
And as a proud family Kinkeeper, this time of the year can be utterly exhausting. Physically yes, but perhaps more significant it can be emotionally draining.
Even though I care that family is together, that we are making memories in the process, and that we are actively upholding traditions... it doesn’t mean that ownership of kinkeeping duties is a blanket clause for the so-called unpleasant “by-products” of these celebrations.
The Kinkeeper Pledge
During this time, I choose to remember the following. Call it a “Kinkeeper Pledge”, a mantra for myself. It keeps me sane, it allows me to keep-on-keeping-on kinkeeping (bumper sticker anyone??). To practice, to uphold, to lead as I desire.
- Everyone is on their own journey and it’s not my responsibility to heal others (their journey is made up of their lived experiences, not mine.)
- I am not my family, nor am I their choices (I love my family but I am not them)
- I am not my family narratives (I get to choose which narratives best serve me and ones that I want to protect, preserve and retell)
- I am not their versions of what they think of me (that’s their business, not mine)
- I can heal and forgive family members without needing to even interact with them (by putting my healing first, I am free)
For Generations On...
And so I continue. I host, I gather, I encourage storytelling and collecting. And I do so by reminding myself exactly the “why” behind what I do. And more importantly, I do so with my sanity intact thanks to a well defined pledge that frees me to be bonded to the Kinkeepers that came before me.
Are you the Kinkeeper in your family? What would you add to the Pledge? Let us know in the comments below.
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