What is a ‘family’?

Courtesy of vintagedancer.com

Courtesy of vintagedancer.com

First published in the Portsmouth News, Tuesday 30th September 2014

People often ask me how I manage to think of something new to write about each week, and my answer is: I just do.

This is a very unsatisfactory response though, so this week I’ve been dwelling on it, and I’ve decided that the clue is in the title of my column, Family Matters.

‘Family’, if we are lucky, occurs around us all the time. Family is people, it is activity, it is a lifestyle and it is a comfort. It can be a source of frustration, and it can be a lonely affair, depending on what hand life has dealt us but, in each and every circumstance, it absolutely matters.

We are born into families and sometimes we choose families. We marry into them, and then sometimes we leave them. Depending on the way in which our relationships have panned out, we may have been a part of many families. Such is the human capacity to adapt and evolve.

We may move away from our families, or we may live in each other’s pockets. We may think of particularly close friends as being family, and have certain friends whom we think of more as siblings than as mates

And throughout each of these infinitesimal webs that we weave, we also leave our imprints. Ripple effects that sometimes merely lap against the lives of others, but sometimes engulf them in a tsunami of emotion. We become bound to one another, in a thousand tiny ways, and it is easy to take for granted the family that we have built.

So, in response to the question of how I think of something new to write each week, the real answer is that I stop and watch. It is purely because I am lucky enough to write this column that I have taken pause and realised that ‘family’ is happening and changing all the time.

This week, try to take a minute to stop and step back. Look around you at the family of which you are a part, and see the ripples that spread out from each of you.

Whether it’s as you sit in the car warbling along to the Frozen soundtrack together, or when your mother-in-law rolls her eyes at you, or the moment that your dad rings when you’ve been meaning to find the time to call him all week.

Just stop for a second and think; family matters. It matters all the time.

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