Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

The family you make

on November 10, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what defines a family.  In most cases, these definitions are strict, black and white: multiple generations sharing some genetic material.  This definition is not at all dependent on whether or not those generations of people can actually stand to be in one another’s company.  For me, though, the definition of a family is more fluid and expansive. 

I was born into a small nuclear family, but a large, bi-coastal extended one.   My paternal grandmother was a true matriarch, her clan gathered for holidays and important occasions.  We all tried to be together at least once a year.  Since her death, we still gather, but in smaller groups, at odd times, and the nuclear units tend to do their own thing more and more.  This could be because my generation is starting to form our own nuclear families and priorities are changing.  Also, dining rooms are only so big, and the family continues to grow (two new babies this year alone!)

On the other hand, there are people who are my family, even though we’re not related.  There are those people you invite into your life in ways that make the word “friend” seem insufficient.  This is something I learned from my parents.  In their lives they’ve introduced several new family members into my life.  Their friends became their family then became my family and added richness, love and warmth to our lives.  Some people just fold so seamlessly into your existence that you forget that you ever didn’t know them.  

So, I’m really lucky.  I have a wonderful, strong and happy genetic family, and I have an ever-growing real family.  I have more people to laugh with and love than I was born with, or than I ever anticipated.  That’s the beauty of life: it only is, it only ever can be, what you make it.

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One response to “The family you make

  1. Schelley says:

    Love my family, too!

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