My American Family

Christmas Day this year was spent at my husband’s brother’s ex-wife’s cousin’s house, which is to say, with friends.

We are as a group united by bonds of blood, law and friendship.  We have among us people whose ancestors came on the Mayflower and people who speak today with the accents of the countries of their birth.  We are Catholics, Protestants and Jews, some of us fervant in our beliefs, some of us equally fervant in our unbelief, and every form of questioner in between.

We range in age from eight to eighty.  We have children who came to us in every way children can come, step, adopted and biological, planned, longed for, and delightful surprise.  We have children who make us unbearably proud and children we worry about everyday.  Sometimes they are the same children.

This year we marked two deaths, four major illnesses, three surgeries, a divorce and two marriages.  On Christmas day, two couples no longer together smiled and treated each other with grace because their love for their children comes before their own pain.

This is my American family.  We are pale, ruddy, olive-skinned and brown.  We are blonde, red-headed, brown, black, white and gray-haired. For the last eight years this kind of big, messy stew has felt invisible, almost impossible in the onslaught of messages about things that should divide us, make us all one thing or another, push our differences in and our common humanity out. 

Yet all along, we have known it wasn’t so and gone on.

With hope for the future.  Happy New Year to all.


One thought on “My American Family

  1. Barb, this is so beautifully written. I have re-read it several times, with more tears coming each time. I’m so grateful to be in the same stew with you!

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