Poet Ogden Nash once said, “A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.”
The common cold notwithstanding, most people think of a family as a group consisting of parents/a parent, siblings and perhaps grandparents. These are the folks who can engender our most passionate feelings – love, exasperation, disgust, admiration, respect, etc. And as they say, you can chose your friends but your family is the card that’s been dealt to you.
The extended family may include aunts, cousins, second cousins twice removed (whatever that means) and a variety of other participants. This is an interesting group in that you can chose to either ignore them or embrace them. I have a cousin in New York that I’ve tried to contact a couple of times when I was in the city – notice the word “tried” in that sentence. I suppose she just wasn’t up for a cup of coffee.
The more amorphous family units can be made up of friends, colleagues, fraternities and sororities, or organizations and groups that are working toward a single purpose. These may be my writer sisters, such as TheThreeGlindas (Geri Krotow and Linda Cardillo), or my Air Force family who was always there for us when we arrived at a new base. They can also be your church family or your football team. The only requisite is that the people involved care for each other.
Families are very important in my books. In Summer After Summer Jazzy’s relationships with her core family and her girlfriends help her through the agonizing process of going from puberty into adulthood.
The moral of this story is that we have many families, and as such we’re blessed to have their love and friendship. “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family; whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need it.” Jane Howard, author.