A few weeks ago we had the privilege of attending a family wedding. The power of family and the joy of being together far surpasses anything else...even if your whole family isn't there. We were able to visit, to sing together, to dance and to drink together. More importantly we were able to share more than DNA...we shared joy.
We shared a special kind of joy that comes from seeing generations of family together. In a world where separation, strife and crisis seems to dominate so many lives just being able to sit together and share a meal with family was, for me, true joy!
I learned some more about myself at this wedding. I learned that family is always there. No matter how many times we weren't able to be together, when you lump us back together we revert to old times, old habits and old laughs...of course the trays full of shooters helped as well!
I learned that each one of us carries with us a story of sorrow, of journeys not chosen but most of all a story of strength. I sat with three incredible women at the wedding. Two were divorced and one was widowed. They all carried stories of pain, yet that night and, I am sure, many nights they celebrated their friendship and I suspect their mutual journeys of pain. They laughed together, danced together and shared moments of secrets. I learned that what seems is not what is. The joy the women bubbled with made my evening fun and thankful. The thankfulness surrounded all of us. I learned we are thankful for what we have, in whatever form it takes. For me it was being thankful that I was able to share laughter, and dances and promises of a great tomorrow with these incredibly strong women.
I shared laughs and hugs with relatives I had not seen for a long time. The hugs transported me back to a time when the whole family was together, cousins numbering over 25 raced around the old farmhouse while the uncles sat at a long table discussing the world situation. It travelled be back to a time when the aunts and my grandmother worked in the steamed up kitchen preparing an incredible meal for over 50 people. The memories of the food, the laughter, the love all contained in the hugs shared by the remaining aunts and uncles spoke to me of what I need to remember more often.
I learned that all of us have the capability to create the family. We do not have to be DNA connected to be family. I have some incredible friends who are not my family but are my sisters. They are sisters who do not hold any history with me growing up. That history comes from the stories we share about our childhood. They are the sisters who have walked with me through many sorrows and I, in turn, have walked with them. We all have the chance to make a joyfilled and grateful family connection with friends. All that is needed is a grateful heart and an open heart. Once those two things line up, our family extends far beyond those blood relatives. Family is created through love and through joy. When we share those two things, family happens!