Choosing to be a Family
April 9, 2007
They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. But, I say, you can choose to be family. Indeed, you have to choose to be a family. Being a family takes work.
I know people who don’t have time to visit their family. I know people who don’t have time to visit their family, but they make time, even though it means sacrificing something else. I know people who have a few nuts on their family tree. I know people who aren’t on speaking terms with other family members for years on end. I know people who have been bitterly hurt by family members. I know people who just laugh at the nuts on their family tree and love them anyway for who they are and choose to forgive the ones who hurt them.
People admire how close our family is, but, the truth is, we choose to be a family, no matter the cost or inconvenience. This recently-past Easter was a prime example.
I get most of my work hours over the weekend, so I lost most of a week’s pay to go out to the farm for the weekend. I did it gladly, and I don’t regret it. It’s just money, but this was about family. Sis #2 had to work part of the time, so, rather than go and cut short her kids’ visit with their cousins, she stayed home and sent 17-year-old Nephew #1 with his younger siblings on his first 200-mile drive. Nephew was a bit nervous, but I don’t think he ever considered not coming, even though his mom would have understood. Family is important to him, too. Brother-in-law #3 was sick and feeling miserable, but that didn’t stop him from coming with Sis #3, who was determined to treat Nephew #7 (step-nephew, technically, but we don’t really have either in-laws or steps in our family) to one of our traditionally crazy Easters. And Mom, despite being under a lot of stress and being exhausted herself, gamely prepared for the invasion. It never occurred to her to say she wasn’t up to it, and, somehow, she managed to be up to it.
But that’s not what outsiders see. They see a large, happy family with adults not too mature to dye eggs or crack confetti eggs over each other’s head. They see older teens and almost teens happily digging into Easter baskets and hunting for eggs. And they enviously remark that they wish their family was like that. Well, guess what? Our family didn’t come that way—we chose to be that way!