I always wanted to be part of a large family. There was something of the green eyed monster about me when it came to friends of mine who had more than one sibling. I adored watching the Waltons and yearned for the closeness and familiarity of a big family all in the same place at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. I was born into a wonderful one. I have parents who gave up a lot to ensure my brother and I had a good up-bringing. We went to private schools, travelled and were privileged in many ways. My brother whom I see a couple of times a year lives in the States has two adorable children and there are a few cousins, Aunts and Uncles. That is my family in the traditional sense of the word.
But it makes me wonder…. how should we define family? Who are those other special people we form very close ties with and whom we wouldn’t want to do life without? Why don’t we often use the term “family” for them.
What about the friend who sorted the bill out for an animal behaviourist when I adopted a very unruly and snappy mutt, or the friend from work who fixed my bathroom door which had been broken for a couple of years. Last year after I had my second operation on a tendon in my hip, the friend who organised a rota of visitors to visit me when I was housebound and could hardly walk so I wasn’t alone. Or the friend with five children who made me a Christmas stocking full of gifts and notes from her children. The people from my church who have been there for me to laugh with me or cry with me… whichever emotion being required at the time. What about my friend who delivered lunch one day when he knew I was home alone and couldn’t get to the shops. Or the friend who sent me a surprise gift for absolutely no reason whatsoever?
I’d say they are all family. What’s more… I’d even go so far as to say I have a wonderful, ever expanding family which makes me richly blessed and hugely grateful and very loved.