Closer than Family

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For many, friends have become our families. Perhaps speaking to family that you haven’t seen in a while or maybe even over the past year. No matter however long that it has been, we find that it’s the distance of family, both emotionally as well as the miles. However, what is found most interesting is that family isn’t about being related. It’s about the relationships that we choose to have with people. As a child, my grandmother had a family friend, who was treated just as she was family. Harriet would go everywhere with my grandmother and her sister. They were the original “Golden Girls.” I often would go out to the dinner and the ever-popular department stores like Bamberger’s with them. I learned a lot of things from them, including doing the sign of the cross when passing a Catholic Church. I never knew that existed until Harriet would say to me, “We’re passing the church. Do the sign of the cross,” and she would show me the correct way of doing so each time.  Harriet went to most, if not all of our family events. Unfortunately, my grandmother, her sister, and Harriet have passed away, but their memories continue to live on in me. I think that if they were here today, they wouldn’t change their relationship of going out together on what I would call “adventures.” They would still be talking on the phone and continuing to be just like they were, family. I think that many people today are becoming closer to friends than they are their own families.

We see more so how people tend to move away from neighborhoods where their families had once lived. For various reasons, they have to make the sort of connections in a new environment that might have, in the past, been provided by the family. Friends are for many the people that we choose to have in our lives. We may not share ancestry, but the truth is blood wasn’t thicker than water.  The role of the family has also changed. In the 1950s, the family consisted of a father, mother, and children, known as the standard family. This type of family was shown on television and quite different from the family of the 21st century. There is a more universal definition of family, which consists of a group of friends to be family, and adult who consider pets as family as well. Today, children are also often raised in single-parent homes, by grandparents or by homosexual parents. Some families opt to have no children, or cannot have children due to some medical or emotional barrier.

The idea that parents and children make a family is a basic definition; however, in order to accurately acknowledge other family structures, a broader definition is necessary. In addition to a more universal family definition, there are also plenty of people who consider a group of friends to be family and adults who consider pets as defining members of the family unit.  Many people consider friends to be as close, or even closer than immediate or extended family. People who have lost close family members may create a family unit of friends with similar interests and goals to become replacements or enhancements to a lacking family structure. This type of family unit, while untraditional, can be just as close, if not closer, than a traditional structure. Friends that are chosen by an individual may be considered to be an important part of their family life. This is in addition to having supportive families. The norm is an extensive network of friends who they consider to be a second family in addition to their blood relatives.

We may not be blessed with the best family, but in reading a great quote to that is meant to live by. Although, the most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them and others you don’t, but in the end, they’re the people you always come home to. Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into. Sometimes it’s the one we make for ourselves of close friends, even friends that you may have known since childhood.  Just like my grandmother and aunt had many years ago with Harriet. When I think about it, I was closer to her than I was to my many of born relatives. It goes to show that family is changing. It’s not about what family that you are born into, but the relationships that are just meant to be.

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