What is family?
When faced with a question, I did what everyone does these days. I Googled it. Oxford Dictionary and Wikipedia had the usual definitions – any group of persons related by blood. Urban Dictionary had, again as usual, slightly odder definitions, but still relatively accurate ones – a bunch of people who hate each other but eat dinner together, usually annoying and invasive around the holidays, a word used to force you to do things you don’t want to do.
They’re all fairly relevant, aren’t they? Anyway, the reason I’ve been thinking on this lately. An event (hereafter referred to as The Incident) happened in my family last year that has had extremely serious repercussions. I won’t go into it, but trusts were fractured into what must be at least a billion parts. No apologies were made, and no attempts at reconciliation happened. I think the person at the root of the problem might have convinced themselves that they did nothing wrong. Crimes were never proven, and time moved on. Now that we’re over a year later, the person continues as always, and on the surface, everyone else has moved on.
But they haven’t moved on, and I was reminded of this today. It’s my father’s birthday in a couple of months; my incredibly strong and wise father. He has been through so much in the last year, not least The Incident. Discussions regarding celebrations began tentatively, and were quashed extremely quickly when some family members stated they didn’t want to come – it was too awkward given the past.
It looks like we may have become one of those families that only ever get together now for funerals. Cheery, right? So, post Incident life seems to be plodding along on the surface, but underneath, the repercussions look to be permanent. All I want is for my family to be whole again, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
So what is a family? Is it merely the people who are related to you, regardless of their actions? Or is it about the relationships that you make yourself – whether people are related or not – that are cultivated and grown to the point that you can’t imagine being without them?