Widening the Circle of “Family”

This is the time of year when we hear a lot about celebrations with family – gifts, dinner tables, travel near and far.  Our families can be big, small, blended, fractured, scattered.  The word feels full or empty, depending on our histories, memories and emotions.

This Season of Light can be difficult for those of us who feel held hostage by societal or biological definitions of “family.”  The sense of sharing, celebration and unity are closed to us if we don’t have long shopping lists and multiple invitations to dinner.

That’s when we must give ourselves permission to redefine “family.”

Richard Bach tells us “Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.”

Maybe our family’s roof is the gym, or our place of work or worship, or the volunteers we join at a food bank serving our community.  Maybe it’s virtual – a skype visit over a bowl of soup with a pal in another country, smiling across the time zones.  Maybe the roof is over our family of farm animals or pets who bring light to our hearts all year ‘round, so we thank them for giving us the opportunity to love them as family.

Maybe our real family’s roof isn’t a roof at all – just the stars in the sky, cradling all of us as one – connected at our heart, regardless of geography or genetics.

Mother Theresa reminds us that maybe we “…draw the circle of our families too small.”  Giving ourselves permission to widen the circle could be the best gift we give ourselves and each other this holiday season.

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