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I come from a family that planted its roots in the Midwest part of the country, lived in the suburbs, drove a relatively new car, had a standard public education, and was what some might consider ‘normal’. I had the same biological family that most are lucky enough to have, two parents, a brother and sister, and extended family living near me during my formative years. But, while I had the same family members that my peers had, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, I came to realize that I had an extended family that had been created by my mom and dad. Because of this, it changed my view of relationships.

Those I am referring to were friends of the family, but we called them ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’. They wore caftans, turtlenecks, leather jackets, bell bottoms, and paisley. They rode motorcycles, drove VWs, played chess and guitars, listened to rock-n-roll and read poetry. They were not ‘approved of’ by my friends’ parents; neither were my parents for that matter. They were hippies. God only knew what went on there behind closed doors! The fact that my friends went home to describe my house and its strange décor, strange music, and strange people didn’t exactly help my cause either. But, to me, all these people were as normal as anyone else. After all, they had been part of my life forever as far as I knew. To all of us, biology didn’t mean a damn thing! We were family.

This attitude persisted in me as an adult. I, of course, got married (twice) and have children as my parents had before me. But I also often have friends that are a bit out of the norm; some have tattoos and piercings, some wear wild clothing and listen to folk music, driving their beat-up cars with the peace sign bumper stickers or one that says ‘COEXIST’ in religious iconography that is diverse and plain to read. Some are crazy political activists, some are poets and performers, some are just regular old folks like you and me. (Okay I’m also a Witch!) But they are all my family! When encountering a new person, I know them automatically as my brother or sister because we have the same spark of the Divine within us. Therefore, I will open my heart to them, my door to them, and trust them as I would have them trust me. Because I am love, I give love, and I want nothing from them but love. In this way, my family always grows.

What does your family look like? Does biology or belief make family ties that bind? Is there room in your life for some folks who might be a little out of the norm?

May your family grow like the Grinch’s heart and be filled with three times as much love tomorrow!