Recently our daughter Julia asked if my best friend's step kids are her cousins. If you look at blood relations then Julia only has one cousin and that will likely be it unless her other uncle decides to change that. But if you look at it from the perspective of the heart then these kids are truly her cousins and she belongs to a very rich and diverse group of "chosen" family. My best friend and her family have been a part of our lives for going on 27 years now. You invest that kind of time and emotion in people and they become a part of you.
To explain it to Julia I told her that each of us has people we are related to by birth. These people are yours whether you like them or not. At some point you can decide if you want to interact with them or not throughout the rest of your life. Really though, until circumstances change or you grow up you are stuck with these blood relations. As you grow up you will meet a lot of different people and hopefully you will make some good friends. Some of these friends will become a part of your family and a part of your heart. These are chosen family and if you have some of these in your life you are surely blessed (by FSM or Buddha or whatever you look up to). Julia seemed to get the message and she started naming the people we have considered a part of our family for many years. She was really surprised and impressed at the number of people we hold close that are not blood relatives.
I have very few blood relations that I would not associate with. I come from a very loving family and I have the best immediate family that anyone could ever ask for. My husband also comes from a great group of folks that I am pretty sure have never met a stranger in their lives. Each family is unique and special in their own way and so far the blending of them all has given us 3 wonderful children.
Okay, I'm not looking through rose colored glasses here people. I will admit that some of us are quirky as all get out. It's part of what makes us special. Special and unique, not short bus special.
The whole conversation with Julia has been on my mind a lot today. I'm feeling bad that I don't keep better touch with some of my chosen family and I aim to fix that. Amazing people have shared their lives and hearts with us and I am a very lucky girl. Lucky is not a strong enough word really. Not adequate in helping explain how much I value these people and the role they have played in shaping who I am and also adding so much love and joy to my life. I will put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with something to tell these people how much I love them. If you have people like this in your life let them know how much you love 'em.
Awe, dammit. I'm out of tissues and this paper towel is harsh on the face.