Thursday, June 5, 2008
I have been greatly blessed with a good family. I have always known it. I just didn't realize so few people had this blessing until I got out on my own to see the world. I really started to hear the sad family stories in the dorm in college. Since then, I have met so many delightful people, and several of them came from less-than-desirable home lives. What makes a good family? My definition may be quite different than yours. But here are some things I think constitute a great place and a great set of people to call Home:
1) You can always go home.
2) They each love you, whether they particularly like you right now or not. Life is too short for fueds or holding a grudge.
3) They will stop what they are doing to come and help you.
4) You can count on them for life events (if travel is possible), like weddings, funerals, baby births, retirement parties, and golden anniversaries.
5) There are life events like golden anniversaries.
6) You know all the marriages might not be perfect, but it is generally understood that the couple is better together than apart. When the going gets really rough, the family holds you up until the storm passes.
7) You can ask for money when you really need it, and if at all possible, a family member will give it to you. There are no strings attached. It would be great if you could pay it back. If you can't, no one will remember. These principals apply: "What's mine is yours" and "Charity starts at home."
8) You write down their birthdays on your calendar. Sure, your card may be two months late, but late is better than never and no one really minds.
9) Birthdays are fun and to be enjoyed. People call and sing "Happy Birthday," no matter how off-key, into the phone. Or to your answering machine. Or with stupid lyrics like, "You look like a monkey and you smell like one toooooo!" Someone always adds, "And many more."
10) They think you are funny and laugh at your pathetic jokes. They say things like, "Do your ostrich impression" and honestly want you to do it again.
11) If you get broke, or find yourself with nowhere to go, or somebody breaks your heart, you can go home.
12) Your parents very well may end up living in your basement in their drooly old age, and everybody understands: you big-time owe them so quit yer whinin'.
13) Members of the family have embarrassing pictures of you in their photo albums. And they revisit them often.
14) You have "family jokes" and stories that just won't die. And this makes you happy.
15) You wish you could be there for Christmas. They wish you could too.
16) These people realize what a big deal it is when you're in a school play, or graduate from high school, or get an "A" on the final, or find a good mate, or buy your first house, or the baby didn't choke on the Cheerio, or you started the anti-depressants, or you quit drinking, or you managed a camping trip with the kids and nobody self-imploded. They get the small stuff and celebrate it with you.
17) You try to do the right thing, and they do too.
18) They sincerely hope you find a job you will like. They hate your asshole boss on your behalf.
19) No matter what stupid thing you do, they will always love and accept you. No matter what.
20) You are part of something good.
It's incredible, and I know it. I hope I can spread the same kind of love in my own family: to Scott and Tip, and someday, to our babies and their babies. This kind of family should be passed down. May every single one of you find a slice of it - or create a slice of it - in your own lives.