Because I not only love the little family I have created with my husband, but I love the family I grew up in, warts and all. And let me tell you, we had lots of warts.
From the beginning, I was not wanted.
My mom wanted an abortion, but my father wouldn't approve. So she had me anyway.
By the time I was four years old, my dad had left and my mom was stuck with me.
I am the baby by many years. My closest sibling is my sister who is eight years older than me. I have three brothers older than her. I was locked in closets for hours at a time and hung by my feet from a second-story window. All of my barbie dolls met untimely deaths by firecrackers or sledge hammers or motorcycle tires.
And yet, I love my family.
My mom and I grew into a sort of dynamic duo. Classic co-dependency, I'm sure, but still . . . I loved her. I love her still.
Many, many years later, the family is at loose ends. There is no father or mother anymore to keep us together. Too many differences in opinion, time and life experiences separate us, like a giant chasm even Evel Knievel would think twice about jumping.
And yet, during a crisis this past Christmas, a few of us came together, to help, to lift, to encourage, to love. Isn't that, after all, what families are for?
My brother knew to whom he could turn when the chips were down--his family. We didn't question that we would be there for him--we just were.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. There is not a one of them that is perfect, despite what we might think, or how they might appear. Every family holds heartache like a trembling bird in their cupped hands. The best of families manage to heal that bird and rejoice when they watch it fly away. The worst of families might have a different sort of image.
But most families are just fumbling along, doing their best, hanging in. That injured bird? Well, it might be one of them, one of us, and we would never abandon it. We might not know how to help it, but we will try. And we will never forgive ourselves if we fail.
That's what families do. And that counts for something, doesn't it?
What do you think?