During the upcoming holiday season our focus turns to our families and all of the preparations and plans of celebrating the holidays with them. My life has been enriched by my family, the families of my original family, my own family and my friend-families.
I have many happy memories of holidays from my childhood. My family was a very close one. We actually enjoyed traveling, eating, working and singing together. As we got older, married, had children, or not, distance separated most of us.
My first sister moved to Brooklyn, NY and later all the way to Idaho to live with her husband near their daughter and her three kids. My second sister moved first to Georgia and later settled in Missouri. Each marrying and moving according to their husband’s career or family needs. My brother stayed in the city where we grew up and married a wonderful lady. He cared for our parents and our aunt as they aged until they all passed away. I moved to New Orleans and later ended up in North Carolina.
The family gatherings with my siblings on rare occasions such as deaths or weddings are always brimming with sharing and feelings of love, teasing, and of course remembering the times we shared with our parents and each other.
The vast gaps between our homes are mostly bridged by Facebook, an occasional call or text and plenty of thoughts. We share pictures and experiences via the internet; message, text or call each other in an effort to continue to be a part of each other’s lives. Often we share memories from the past. But we all watch as our nieces and nephews have grown up in our far-flung families.
My two sons, their wives and children have become my main family. Although they live 50 and 80 minutes away from me and in opposite directions, I get to see each once or twice a month. They, for the most part, are the ones my life revolves around. Knowing they all love me makes my life full of joy and contentment.
M, my first son, married Ce two years ago; a delightful, lady from Puerto Rico who is a veterinarian. I treasure watching as their life together grows and evolves.
I adopted my second son, D, as a married adult. When he was a teenager he often came home after school with M. and became like a son to my husband and me. After his parents and my husband died I adopted him. My second son, D married Ca long before I adopted him. He and Ca have two little boys, aged 2 and a half years old, and another 8 and a half months old. You can just imagine how much fun I have with these two children!!
D and Ca took me in for a month four years ago after I sold my home and had to wait for the loan approval for my new home.
I recently went to visit my sister and her family in Idaho. D, the first sister, was the one who rescued me when I tried to experience what hanging felt like at 6 years old! I owe my life to her.
She and her husband have a cozy house near their only daughter and her three teenagers. Their daughter my niece is also a nurse, like our mother, grandmother, our cousin, and my niece’s daughter wants to be a nurse too.
I met my great niece and nephews for the first time last month. It was a delight to reconnect with family and actually share meals, cheering the nephews on during a touch football game and finally an evening with all of them. My sister has two sons, each with a wife and children.
I plan to visit my second sister and her husband next year after winter is passed. Since my brother and his family live in South Carolina, I see them about every two or three months.
Although we live far apart we are bound together by the love we have for each other and for the love we shared with our parents. I wish everyone could have had the family life we shared growing up. No matter how many adult kids we have or how many grandchildren we have, we are bound together as family.
Each family spreads out as it grows. One nephew lives in South Carolina, another in Virginia, another in New York. The great nieces and nephews I have will spread out even further and I may lose touch with them. But they are still my family and I love them all and treasure the times we shared with each other.
Have you noticed when our childhood families move far away, we often create new families with our own children and close friends. In this way we often can have new families with new memories; surrounding ourselves with warmth and closeness.
The truth of the matter is most of us need some kind of family-like relationship with other people. These friend-families can fill the need for familiarity, formation of new memories and often the support that the first family usually provided.
With so many miles between them and between me and my original family, I have a close family of sister friends. We call to say hi; check on each other; make movie or meal dates; depend on each other when sick of suffering some urgent or stressful situations. We have fun with each other by traveling, going to the movies or just visiting each other’s homes.
Our friendships are understanding, compassionate, open and accepting of our minor personality differences. We teach, emotionally support, provide a shoulder to cry on or an ear to hear whatever needs expressing.
We know each other well since most of us have traveled, eaten, cooked, roomed and cut up with each other for years. Most of us found each other through common interests and all, except one of my friends through our careers in the same hospital. We have all shared some difficult times together and love each other like sisters. Do you have friend families? How did you meet? What experiences do you share?
I am so thankful for my family, the families of my original family, my own family and my friend-families, the memories and times we share and will share. They all help make life so much more enjoyable.