a "Family" issue?
There are a number of answers. The first is
that Holy Cross has a long tradition of calling itself a family. According
to sociology Professor Ed Thompson, this is an
appropriate use of the word. If one definition of family involves a sense of
belonging and a shared set of goals and beliefs, then Holy Cross qualifies. And
if you think of our tendency to intermarry, attend reunions and send our children
to Alma Mater, the idea of the College as an ever-growing
extended family feels correct.
Out in the larger world, the notion of "family"-what it was, what it is, what
it's becoming-is a much-discussed topic. On my
desk is another Wall Street Journal article on family-friendly companies.
It sits atop the latest Newsweek, which features Susan Faludi's recent
book on men and their new role in society and in the life of the family. Were
I to walk downstairs to the cafeteria right now and eavesdrop on the lunch table
conversations of my colleagues, I'm fairly certain I'd hear a dozen different
juggling scenarios; stories involving child care recommendations, elder-care
dilemmas, parent-teacher conferences, soccer
practices, and dance recitals.
As the baby boomers find themselves in the thick of
mid-life, the questions of what constitutes a family and of how to sustain a
family, become preeminent in
a world that appears more fragmented all the time. And as our culture careens
toward the millennium, our answers
to those questions become more complex.
The articles in this issue are windows onto some families of the 1990s. We look
at how one family was built through adoption and how another has coped and grown
with the challenges of a special needs child. We visit with a stay-at-home dad
and talk with our resident expert on the Family Medical Leave Act. And interwoven
through all of these
pieces, we've printed the drawings of some children of the Holy Cross family-representations
of how kids view their own clans.
After months of reading, editing and proofing these articles, in the end it is
the children's drawings I keep coming back to. Clearly, these artists have little
need of our definitions. They
may or may not be budding Rembrandts, but they've all found their subject. With
the minimalist's pencil sketch, the vibrant colors of neon markers, or the reliable
Crayola, they've depicted the people who give them a sense of love, of belonging,
Yes, today's families are stressed, rushed, pulled in a hundred different directions
at once. (When I nagged our president-the first Holy Cross president to have
children-for his "Road Signs" essay, he sent the piece to me with an
attached note: Sorry
this is late, I have family . Classic Vellaccio humor and, for
many of us, easy to relate to.) But the shared joys and sorrows and
members together have not been dismantled by the changes of
the last half-century.
There's a good chance you're reading this at the end of a long workday. Maybe
you've already checked the homework, wrestled the kids into pajamas, read Mike
Mulligan and his Steam Shovel for the hundredth time, and fetched that last glass
of water before sleep.
But before you make tomorrow's lunches or return the calls on the answering machine
or tackle a load of overdue laundry, take a look at the children's drawings.
It won't make tomorrow any smoother. But it might give you a smile
before you turn in.