I’m with my family for the holidays. It’s been a refreshing and recharging trip so far, mostly just me and my partner in my childhood home with my parents occasionally checking in with us at they go about their daily lives, preparing for the big events of Christmas. My sister and her family descend upon the house this afternoon, bringing a whirlwind of excited activity, barely retrained delight, exuberant emotion, and probably a tantrum or two. That’s life. That’s my family.

I know not everybody has a family like mine. I know the experience of gathering around the tree on Christmas morning in matching pajamas and watching children tear away bright paper from new toys isn’t something everyone gets. A lot of people have families who aren’t this in touch, who don’t have this connection. Some people barely talk to their families at all. Others wish they didn’t have parents. Still others wish their parents were still with us.

For me, I wish this house was big enough for me to invite everyone who may be alone or who might feel isolated this year, and have them join in this atmosphere, if they’d feel comfortable doing so.

I long ago swore that I would do two things when it comes to my family: I would not take their love, generosity, or honesty for granted, and I would do my utmost to share the gifts they continue to give me with those around me. Considering how my family continues to support me, I think I’ve got that first part pretty much nailed. As for the other… let’s just say there are times in my past when I wish I’d been better at listening, being receptive, and taking a moment to pause and reflect before choosing my response, rather than simply reacting.

At my last family reunion, I saw a lot of small humans reacting rather than responding. Upon reflection, it seems that there are some folks who never really grew out of that impulse. It took me quite a while to get to a point where I can do that semi-regularly, and I still have my share of mistakes and knee-jerk reactions. Hell, at times I wonder if a tweet I send out or a blog entry I post is too much, or goes too far, or needed to be worded better, if sent at all.

Family, at least my family, understands that. They’re good at holding space for me. They see me and all I could be, rather than what I’ve failed to be. They’re patient with me, as the parents in my family I’ve seen are patient with their children. I’ve been forced to grow up a lot in the past year. When the people I’d chose to be part of my family turned on me, I had to grow up even more. And my blood family was there for me, behind me and loving me, every step of the way.

Everybody deserves this kind of family and love.

On Fridays I write 500 words.