grandmother and grandchildHanging out with the family, especially the extended family is an experience.  This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with relatives from my mother’s side. We ranged from age 100 to 8 months.

It was an opportunity to catch–up with people, to meet lots of little ones, and to talk about our shared past. We ate,  played, hugged and talked some more – nothing super special but still something memorable.

When we hang with our extended family, we also celebrate our uniqueness. We have a range of talents and interests. Our life experiences are varied. Some were adopted into our family.  Yet, they are no less a part of our family. In fact, they add a lot to our gene pool and our fun!

Hanging with extended family is not always easy. We may be separated by years, miles, politics, lifestyles…stuff that can create division between us. When we put aside these differences, gather our common connecting points (events, people, whatever) we can learn more about ourselves and better appreciate and understand others. Younger generations can hear history from those that experienced it.

Hanging with the family  can be loud. We were blessed to have many age five and younger at our event. Lyrics from “Family Reunion” by Mike Wilson sum up this mix for our crew:

It’s our family reunion! So many aunts and uncles I’ll have to count again. And all these crazy cousins – I can’t believe we’re kin!

Crazy fun is part of our experience. It took some time, some planning, some traveling. It had some stress points for those who attended and those who were unable to attend. And, there is grief for those who have died – no longer with us in body, but still alive in our collective memories.

I have been blessed with large, supportive family from both my parents’ sides, my husband’s family, my church family, my friends from high school, the ladies of Sellards Hall during my college days, my music therapy colleagues.

Family isn’t defined by genetics for me. It is defined by a closeness and sharing, a welcome gathering of people. It is reaching out to support and to care for one another. It is loving and treasuring ourselves and others. Family is built with patience, laughter, crying, listening, and just plain old hanging out together.

May you and for those for whom you care find a supporting family with which to hang – no matter what makes them family.

I leave you with a hymn that sums the welcoming of a loving family for me: “All are Welcome”. 

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