Family – It just isn’t one-size-fits-all. Families comes in different shapes, sizes, ages and … personalities …. like it or not. We often refer to family as “our blood”, “folks”, “kinfolk” or “our people.”
I grew up in small town New Jersey in a close-knit Italian American family where everything was surrounded by family, lots of food … and more family and friends! I have vivid memories of Thanksgiving at our “Nana’s” house after our high school football games against our arch rival “Summit” (a bigger town that almost every year whipped our butts). Christmas was at our house. We would have our neighbors (who were close like family) over for “cocktail hour” followed afterwards by a big turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing with our aunts, uncles and cousins. And I shall never forget our Easter celebrations at Auntie Leah’s and Uncle Bo’s house where we had such a fun, fun time hunting Easter eggs in their back yard. It wasn’t too easy finding the “Golden Egg” (with a $5.00 bill taped to it) amongst what seemed liked miles and miles of Pachysandra (beautiful heavy ground cover of thick greenery).
And lots of other family memories (a few not so fond ones, too) – laughing around a table, teenage parties at the house, coming home and my sister changed around our beds and furniture in our room yet again; my brothers fighting and then picking on me until I cried and cried. I have fond memories of eating so much spaghetti and meatballs on Sunday afternoons that I practically stumbled to the couch afterwards to watch football with my dad. It makes me think of my memories of Mom – her wonderful laughter and smile… and how us kids used to play outdoors in all seasons. I will never forget when our Dad was mad, and he gave us “the look” – which meant watch out. (For a stroll through the Good O’ Days…. http://www.lifeainteasystreet.com/?p=279).
I thought EVERYONE had a close-knit family just Iike I did. I mean, not “perfect,” but a family that lived together and loved each other. Then I joined the Navy at 19 (still just a kid really) and was exposed to women and men of all different cultures, backgrounds, and many different levels of dysfunction. (I think we are all a little dysfunction in some way … but that is a whole different post for another day.) I guess what I am trying to say is people have different upbringings … I learned that people truly have different kinds and types of “families”.
My family is wonderful…. However, a few years ago I did feel like an “orphan” for a while after the death of my parents. And then a couple years pass, and you learn life goes on (fortunately or unfortunately). I have been blessed by a wonderful family – not just those who are related by blood, but by those people who were “grafted in” to our family tree!
Here are my beautiful girls… and my husband….
My sister – Carol, who is tenderhearted like my Mom – and there for me through thick and thin.
This is Maria. She cared for our 95- year-old Aunt Irene before her passing and Maria still joins us for family gatherings and get-togethers. We “adopted” her into our family, and now she is a part of us (like it or not)!
Say hi to Nicole. She calls me her “fake aunt” and she is part of the family! I will never forget how she lovingly put together a beautiful slide show of my parents and our family for my mom’s funeral service. Nicole is now pregnant and expecting her first child… I can’t wait to be an adopted great-aunt!
And let’s not forget Beverly, who lives next door to my sister and brother-in-law, and who always shows up at just the right moment to chip in with whatever needs to be done at just the right time … at any given moment.
And those people who are like family, act like family, and who are there for me…. supporting me in many ways (too many sweet women to name). They are not part of my bloodline, but I definitely consider them all “part of the family”. As the years go by, and as I mature, I appreciate these women more and more.
To many of us – our pets are our “family”. I really never truly “bonded” with our dogs until I became employed working from home. So… they have truly become my “babies.” Toby, our Dachshund, whom I call our “fat little man”, is just so easy going (but needy, too) and plugs along. While Bella, our Chihuahua, on the other hand, is surely the rascal princess of the home!
If you don’t have any blood relatives as your family – I hope you have people (and maybe pets, too) in your lives who you can call your family – whether they are blood relatives or wonderful people who you have “grafted in” to your life. And like any family, these people drive us nuts sometimes, yet we can’t imagine how lifeless it would be without them …or how boring life would be if families really were a one-size-fits-all type of thing!
What a blessing our “family” is – however you define your family, I hope you feel the same way. I am thankful for all my family members whether two-legged, four-legged, blood relation or kindred spirits. I can’t imagine getting through life without my family!
Hope to see you at the next family gathering!