Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving is Family Time

Two experiences this week have me thinking about family. The first was the funeral for a close friend's father, attended by many people from our work community. The second was a party at my house, where young adults gathered to laugh and reminisce about being teenagers. My conclusion from these two very different events is this: our families are the people who show up.

We cannot always count on having warm and fuzzy feelings for our families. It's nice when that's the case, but the ups and downs of life make it almost inevitable that we will not always feel close to family. Family will not always support us in the ways we would like to be supported. Family do not always even share our values and hopes. Here's what family always does: it shows up.

When you think back through your own life at key events, you begin to notice the people who simply are there. Not so much there when you need them as more simply there where you are. They may inspire you and they may infuriate you, but they show up. They show up physically, and they show up in your own expressions and memories and characteristic turns of phrase. Family are people who show up.

And after awhile, the people who show up are family. They may not be linked by blood or marriage and they might not even be the people you love best or like most or find most interesting. But event after event, year in and year out, they show up. And they become family.

You can't pick your family. They just show up.

You can pick your friends. If they show up often enough, they become family - no longer required to be interesting or right - just present with you through the ups and the downs.

Family shows up.

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