I am a part of a family.
Here's what you need to know about my family: we're southern, we're loud, and we consider any blood relation (no matter how distant) lifetime cause to get all up in your business (in the best possible way, of course). Done. Amen.
Growing up, family meant a lot of things to me...Sunday dinners, Christmas presents, vacations and having about 15 people at every dance recital and awards ceremony. Now that I've gotten older and moved on to creating my own family - I've realized a thing or two about what family actually means.
First - You choose to be family. I know some of you may be rolling your eyes at the genetic implications of that statement, yet even though birth may choose who you're related to - commitment decides who is your family. Case in point? Caroline Geiger. She has been one of my two best friends since high school (about 10 years now - GAH) and around year 5 we realized we had crossed some invisible line from friendship to family. Caroline is the closest thing I have had to a sister - and whether we like it or not, we're doing life together for the long-haul. Another example is my aunts - though they did not choose to be related to me - they have chosen time and time again to invest in my life and treat me like a real person, not someone who they are required to spend time with according to the laws of relation.
Second - Family is messy. Heck, life is messy. If you're not fighting, bickering or somehow ticking each other off at some point or another - you're not doing it right. The deeper your relationships get - the more honest and vulnerable you become (hopefully), therefore opening yourself up to let faults and insecurities come in to play. This is a good thing because you also allow other people to experience them, giving you and your family an opportunity to work through things together.
Third - Your family (and it's members) may not be what you want, but they're going to be what you need. I know this may sound horrible, but I don't always want to hang out with my family. That's why I have friends - my friends are people I've chosen to do life with who share my same passions, interests and ideas. My family, however, does not usually adhere to those same standards. They are who they are - whether or not I agree with it. A part of being family means you want the best for your family members - but it also means you stick together regardless of disagreements on any level. They're there when you need it - not when you necessarily want it...and it's always good.
Family. What a fantastic concept. In the past few months mine has grown, changed and evolved in ways I never imagined and am endlessly thankful for. I am constantly being reminded of their generosity, love and compassion for my life - encouraging me to reciprocate with everything I have.
I am a part of a family. I am eternally grateful for every one of them. I am already counting down to my next trip to Texas.
Picture: There are two - First, me and my sweet Caroline. Second, my newly expanded family (well, at least some of them).