I got the idea for this post in my travels over the past month.
I have one biological sibling, a sister, who is 4 years younger than I am. I have many more surrogate siblings, aunts, uncles, and even parents. Two weeks ago, I was visiting my best friend of 25 years for her daughter’s birthday. She considers me family and I consider her to be the same. I refer to her daughter as my niece even though we don’t (as far as I know) share a lick of DNA. It leads to a lot of confusion for those who don’t know know anything beyond the surface. I get a lot of “I didn’t know your sister had kids” or “Wait, is your sister even married?”. I visited both within the past 2 weeks. My sister up and moved to Minneapolis a little over 3 years ago. I’ve seen her in the flesh twice since then before this past weekend. We went to the Minnesota State Fair (I’ll be detoxing from fried food for days. Oy.), spent time with some of her co-workers, and took the culinary tour of her part of town. The older we get, the more similar we’ve become. We’ve passed the point where the age difference includes large developmental differences. There were several times we said the exact same thing at the exact same time to both our great amusements. I rarely get to see either of them in person and it was nice to get to see both in a short period.
Historically, the term “family” would include slaves or servants in the household in addition to parents, children, and any other blood relatives living in the house. Without getting into the politics of slavery or servitude, the term “family” serves as a relatively simple way to identify a household. It was also used to track inheritance of titles, lands, and other rights that may be conferred upon the death of a matriarch or patriarch. In my mind, families are fluid. You can create your own family in the traditional sense through getting married and / or having children. You can also put together a group of people you love and care for, regardless of origin. You can choose to leave out relatives you don’t get along with or flat out don’t like when describing your family. I know plenty of people, myself included, who leave out certain members of the family tree for any number of reasons. You can add members who aren’t immediate relatives.
Whoever they are, whatever their origins, take good care of your family. Don’t bother yourself with strange looks from others. Who you choose to call family is none of their business. That’s up to you and your family.
Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Blood doesn’t always run thicker than water