What is the definition of Family? Miriam? (That’s Miriam Webster for those of you who are not on a first-name basis with my buddy.)
A group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head: Household
A group of persons of common ancestry: Clan
A group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: Fellowship
There are actually a few more…my favorite of which is “A unit of a crime syndicate (as the Mafia) operating within a geographic area”. I like that kind of Family. I wonder if I could create one of those…oh, wait, I’d have to become a criminal. Is there such thing as a non-criminal Mafia? I digress.
Generally speaking people think of their Family as their immediate relatives—mom, dad, siblings. Then there is the extended Family—aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…oh the cousins. They seem to multiply disproportionately compared to other Family members don’t they?
But is blood required to make a Family? Of course not. There is adoption and marriage. These bring people into our Families as well…with legal ties.
Ok, so there’s blood and legalities that make a Family. Is that it? That’s my question of the week. What defines your Family?
I have always been one of those people who embraces everyone. At times I embrace too many people, but it’s a flaw I don’t mind having. I believe in inviting people into my circle rather easily. I subscribe to the philosophy that it is incredibly easy for me to like you and trust you. Now, if you break that trust…well, it is best not to talk about that. The point is, I believe the more the merrier and if I can share all that is wonderful about my life with others, we all benefit.
However, there has been conflict in my circle for years about my propensity for including others. There are those who believe I should limit things to my blood relatives. Are they correct? I’ve never felt so, but am willing to listen to alternative viewpoints.
From my perspective, having more people during social occasions just increases the fun. The alternate view is that special occasions should primarily be limited to immediate Family. What do you think?
In my life, particularly in this second life I’m living, I find that having more people involved in my life provides me more support, more laughter, more love. Is there a downside? Perhaps. More accountability is one. I’m not really allowed to disappear from the grid anymore. If people can’t get a hold of me, they worry. On the upside, given how many people are in my circle these days, they can usually check in with one another and SOMEONE can find me. Thank God for Facebook I suppose.
Yes, there are times where it is nice to have things limited to “just Family”. But for me, my Family is defined by so much more than DNA or legal edicts. My family is a completely random, semi-dysfunctional collection of people who I wouldn’t trade for the world. They don’t all get along with each other, but the one thing they have in common is a love of me and my boys. And THAT is all that is required to be a part of my Family. Ring Lardner summed up family very nicely for me:
“The family you come from isn't as important as the family you're going to have.”
BUT, for the Family we grow up with, Erma Bombeck had this to say:
“The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”
Who’s right? Perhaps both, perhaps neither. You decide.