When I say family naturally I mean those who are related to you, parents siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, but I also mean people who although absent of biological connection still feel like a family member. The people who’ve known you your entire life, helped raise you or even silently routed for you from the sidelines are the people who see the best in you. People who see the best in you bring out the best in you.
Over the past decade I’ve learned that family really is everything. Though I pushed them away and alienated them in my teen years they’ve still been a constant in my life. At every holiday, birthday party and get together and through every family crisis or hard time they offered a helping hand and a year ago as I walked across the stage to get my first college degree I realized that all the people that I chose over my family were notably absent from my graduation, my family was there. So as my 26th birthday approached I thought more and more about how I wanted to celebrate it. At first to be honest I didn’t really want to celebrate it at all I just wanted to relax after a really long 6 months of working and going to school. After some more thought though and the warm summer sun peaking put I decided I’d throw myself a BBQ and have my family and just handful of friends over to celebrate, laugh and just relax. I could have planned a night on the town and gotten dressed up but I truly did not feel like doing it because not only had I done it for every birthday since I turned 21 I was just lazy.
So I bought some BBQ food, some snacks, a few drinks and got to work. It was the first event I had planned for myself that every person I invited RSVP’d and showed up, it was also the first family gathering where I invited more than one friend and didn’t cringe when everyone co-mingled. It was truly a great experience and so worth the time and money that went into it because instead of a fancy dinner in a room of mostly strangers I was at my house, with my family and friends, enjoying the weather and one another and after I had cleaned up the yard, put away the tables and closed the lights I realized I felt light, happy and I was thankful.
As I’ve gotten older I have learned countless things, sometimes the hard way, but mostly I’ve learned that family is forever and some people despite not being related are family and are stronger forces in your life regardless of how long they’ve been there. Life weaves together this tremendous basket for us, one that keep store our keepsakes in; life lessons, memories, fears and ambitions. In the fabric of that basket, woven deep within the stitches lie the people who’ve helped create the basket, both past and present. However some people weave stronger stitches in our basket than others and are part of our main stays. These are the people I want to celebrate birthdays with and these are the people that make me smile and drag me out of the house when I least feel like it. Though I am far from perfect, no human being is really, I can say that I’m happy with a low key celebration as I age because memories like that will live on for me for years to come. Family is constant, supportive friends are crucial and I am lucky enough to say I have both and for that I’m tremendously thankful.