The Oxford dictionary’s initial definition of the word family as:
“(treated as singular or plural) a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”
An interesting definition in the modern world as there are probably more combinations of people making up the modern family “unit” than bloody varieties of ice-cream.
The recent arrival of my baby step-brother back in Scotland has got me considering the term family and what that actually means to me…. and what that will inevitably means for the future of my own family “unit”.
For a very long time my personal family was, on the surface at any rate, exactly matching to the Oxford Dictionary definition. Mum, Dad and me in a cozy wee family bubble, seemingly solid and happy to the outside world. Not so much… over time that we cozy bubble popped and for a very long time idea of what family meant to me was decidedly shaky.
“a group of people related by blood or marriage”
For the majority of my teens and early twenties blood was most certainly thinner than water. After losing complete contact from one of the key players in the original family bubble and began to seriously distance myself from the other along with extended family. Extended family who may not have understood why I was acting in the way I was during these troubled angst-y years, but were there,welcome or not, through thick and thin. These extended family members in the main not blood relations, but longstanding family friends who rallied round during many crumbly, unstable years for our wee unstable, undefinable unit of two. As for the “blood family” in the main nowhere to be seen, and if seen, not often. When I look back on my darkest moments it has almost always been friends that have been there to remind me of how strong I am or have to be, not “blood” family.
“the children of a person or couple being discussed”
As I said this joyous sprint down my own personal memory lane was induced by the arrival of a new step – sibling. I have two older step siblings neither of which I have any real connection with and this I am, in the main, OK with. (OK in the I can’t really dwell on it too much as if I do my over analytically brain will cause a minor meltdown.) They’re blood, but are they family? We didn’t grow up together and have completely different family “units” and family experiences. The friends I have and closer to me than siblings, some of them have been there throughout my childhood, pre and post bubble popping.
When I became engaged it was, not only the happiest day of life to date, but it opened an entirely new mental can of worms… joining a new family! I would imagine a lot of people would consider engagement to be more the joining of two families, but my initial reaction was that I didn’t have much of a family to offer. Nothing makes you realise who your family really are more than the loss of loved ones and moving to the other side of the planet.
As the longstanding family base camp of my recently departed Grandmother is packed away to be sold it is the friends that are stepping in, in my absence. They are the support and the help that is needed packing away the end of an era. Simply put the are the support network, they are the ones that have come to the rescue… They are the family. And when I get married I will be starting my own new definition of “family”…
By marrying my best FRIEND.
The Oxford dictionary defines family as “a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”; “a group of people related by blood or marriage” and “the children of a person or couple being discussed”
“where there is support, forgiveness, acceptance, friendship and love, there is family, in whatever form it may come”
And when you find that “family” folks.. cherish it