Chosen Family: Who We Spend Quality Time With
As my wife has been recovering from recent surgery, she has been binge watching Friends on Netflix. From repeatedly seeing ten seasons worth of holiday episodes, covering the gamut from Halloween through Valentines, there was something that I noticed. These six characters rarely celebrate with their families, at least the relatives that are outside of the six of them. All for their own individual reasons, they spend holidays together as a chosen family.
Chosen Family Over Birth Family
We all have different reasons for spending time with friends instead of family over the holidays. Distance or estrangement or even lack of a family altogether can push us to create a chosen family.
When Distance Dictates Family Connection
Many times, distance separates families and cause us to spend holidays with our chosen family.
Both of my wife’s parents are originally from Ohio. They moved around a bit when she was younger, as her dad was in the army. After settling in north Georgia, they began to spend their holidays there instead of traveling to Ohio every year. In settling there, they became close friends with their next-door neighbors. They were like a new extended family, and the whole time the lived next door to each other, they shared holidays together.
I feel like many of us have this experience. For whatever reason, there are those family members that we just don’t have a relationship with. Maybe something happened to break the relationship, or maybe there was just never a real relationship there.
I think about this in my own life, how there are literally half of my blood relatives that I don’t even know. And sometimes you can try to create a relationship there, but sometimes that shared genetic history just isn’t enough to try to create a relationship out of.
As I think about everyone I know that has family situations where some relatives are not even on speaking terms with others, I realize that as much as that genetic bond means, sometimes the family we choose means more to us than the disappointments, anger, and resentment that the family we are born into causes us.
Alone Without Family
Going back to the Friends example, I think of people like Phoebe. People with no family, whether through death or abandonment, can only turn to their friends and neighbors as their family. And even though they may always carry the pain of not having a blood familial connection, maybe the relationships that they do have are stronger for it.
Regardless of the reasons for choosing a family, we all need loving caring relationships to enrich each other’s lives. Nurture those relationships, for they are precious and can make all of the difference in the world.
Teaser: Next time, I’m going to dig into deep friendships.