Friday, September 12, 2008

You can't pick your family... or can you?

I've always heard "you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your family." Lately, I've been wondering if that is true. I have a family (a large one, in fact, full of cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles...) that I love and I would do so much for each and every one of them. But, I have a second family. No, I'm not counting in-laws (or in my case, hope-to-be-future-in-laws.... PC's family) and such. No... I'm talking about my friends who are my family.

I mentioned my 'niece' Noodle in the last post. She's not my brother's child. She has none of my genetic material in her. No, she's our friends' daughter and she is my niece. My friend Mari (see sidebar for her site!) and my friend S (who's giving me a nephew- RemDog (nickname-- she's not naming her kid RemDog after Jerry Remy) are as close as sisters to me. I call them when I need support, need to laugh, need to cry. We share secrets and stories. We talk about everything-- nothing's off limits. I never had sisters and I finally do.

Now, my brother's wife is expecting their first child (we are very excited!) and this will just add to my "brood" of nieces and nephews.

We had a lengthy discussion at work once about what constitutes "family"--- we have a company policy that if you or dependent parent, spouse or child is sick, you can take sick time (it's unlimited... to a point) freely without question. PC and I live together. He's my family. He cares for me when I am sick; I care for him when he is sick. An incident landed us in the ER one night and into the following morning... PC was sick. He needed me. I stayed. I called into work (waiting until someone was there to answer the phone... I hate leaving "I'm sick" messages on voicemail) and when I went in the following day, was informed I needed to take a vacation day b/c "he's not your family." This decision has since been changed ( I think once they heard themselves say that OUT LOUD they realized how asinine it sounded) and we have had discussions about how the American family is changing: two mommys, two daddys, unmarried parents, living with grandparents or uncles/aunts, single parent families, siblings raising younger siblings... all of these constituting a family.

Where on earth am I going with this?

The Red Scarf Project (Norma's got way more details) for the Orphan Foundation. Kids who have "aged out" of the foster system and are headed off to college. Alone. No one to move them in, make their bed, and beg them to call every night. No one to rush home to for Thanksgiving break. And more importantly, no one to send those oh-so-important care packages to college. My care packages usually arrived with my parents on a weekend visit. Cookies from my mom. A banana bread from my Nana. My dad brought me a wee rose bush one visit for Valentine's Day.

So, I knit a red scarf...did you?? I'm knitting another one, I hope.... are you??

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