Family is a fascinating animal. Maybe it's cousins that don't speak, siblings that bicker or friends that have been around too long. Maybe it's folks that know you better than you know yourself, in-laws that accept you as you are no matter what, or friends that you would do anything for. Whatever you believe or experience it is hard to quantify the value of family.
I spent the weekend with family in a tiny microcosm that I both love and hate. At least once a year all my immediate family and most of my extended family gather together. In that gathering are always a number of friends from across generations that might as well be blood. It's wonderful to spend time with everyone especially as we begin to lose many of the older generation. So much so that the tradition of this gathering has become a cornerstone of the shift from winter to spring. But the very microcosm that allows this to happen functions like a lab petri dish bringing all the salient features of these relationships to the forefront, some good, some not.
Ironically, I choose to spend this time with so many others getting to know myself. You can learn much about what you do unconsciously and what is truly import to you by looking through the eyes of family. But more importantly, you learn the places either in personal space or as a parent that you are not willing to negotiate or compromise. These are the core truths of what makes you, you. I listen to others and myself and begin to understand at a visceral level those things that I'm willing to fight to the end for. It can be very revealing.
So today I thank those I call family, and not all of you are blood. Thank you helping make the person I've become. Thank you for being the mirror that helps me know myself better. Thank you for still being there when life keeps us apart for too long. And most importantly, thank you for being you and for sharing your life with me.