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Challenge: What Makes a Family?

This Is Family

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I grew up in a big family, with three brothers and two sisters. Besides my husband, they're still the first people I turn to when I'm celebrating, laughing, or crying. While we all now have families of our own, there's still an unspoken sense of knowing and belonging that comes from all of our shared experiences and memories.

That's the thing about family, though, right? So much shared history, happy and sad. Oftentimes, I don't even have to say anything, because they just know. Likewise, they know that these things are what make us family:

  1. Family is waking up at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning and counting down the time until you can go to the living room together.
  2. Family is spending long days at the beach, with a bucket of fried chicken and a cooler of drinks, while you jump in the waves and build sandcastles.
  3. Family is knowing about that first time your sister tried beer and maybe drank a little too much.
  4. Family is calling your sister to ask if the very, very faint pink line still means you are in fact pregnant, and then sitting on the phone while she screams with excitement.
  5. Family is road trips to see far-away relatives, where you fight incessantly and your Mom threatens to pull the car over multiple times.
  6. Family is going to the funeral home with your brother to make arrangements for your parent’s funeral.
  7. Family is celebrating birthdays with Mom’s special homemade ice cream cake and a giant, homemade happy birthday poster.
  8. Family is standing next to your sister when she says “I do,” and then giving a toast so funny that people are crying with laughter.
  9. Family is wishing you could shield your sister from the sadness over the loss of her baby.
  10. Family is planning your Dad’s eulogy together, and wanting to make sure it includes every single great thing you want people to know about your Dad.
  11. Family is knowing that no matter how mad you get at each other, you will always make up.
  12. Family is giving and receiving unending love.
  13. Family is knowing you’re together for the whole journey to lean on, laugh with, and cry with. And in those moments when you cannot walk alone, to carry each other through.

This—all of this—is family.

To my Mom, Dad, brothers, and sisters: I love you, and I’m so happy to be walking through life with you.


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