Merriam-Webster defines “family” as “a group of people who are related to each other,” but also as, “a group of related people, including people who lived in the past.”
The “past” portion of this definition sticks out to me. You can be a family, a unit, whole at one time but then broken at the next—broken in the past, but whole again in the future.
Five days ago, my older brother flew home to visit Minnesota, vacationing from his new state of Arizona. My entire family shortly arrived, staying with us in shifting forms and arrangements throughout the weekend.
My parents divorced when I was young; both my mother and my father remarried and had more children. From the time they divorced to when Jesse and I became adults, our parents never really talked (at least not about pleasant things) and weren’t on the best of terms.
I’ve spent much of my childhood and adolescence split between two families—two Christmases, two bedrooms, two separate lives. I planned on spending most holidays and weekend visits that way for a long time.
Recently, though, something changed. Last year at my wedding, we all came together to celebrate. And it seemed as though the ripped seam began to stitch itself shut. At Thanksgiving, both families joined my new husband and I in our cramped house to express gratitude for all that we have been given.
And this weekend, with the arrival of my brother, the two families spent the entire weekend together. Four parents, three adults, and three children—all one unit.
We played games, ate, and drank wine in abundance—everything that happened no longer mattered. We enjoyed each other as related people do, laughing and taking in everything around us. The hurt and pain stayed in the past where it belonged.
There were so many things I wanted to say at last year’s Thanksgiving, the first holiday I had celebrated with both of my parents since their divorce so long ago, but I didn’t know how to put the words together. Nor did I have a chance this weekend.
So today, I’m grateful for my past. I’m grateful for my future and the togetherness that hopefully will be a part of it.
I’m thankful every day for the divorce that separated my parents—without it, I wouldn’t be blessed with a stepfather and stepmother to love and three more siblings to envelop in happiness.
I’m thankful for the healing power of time.
And I’m thankful for love and its ability to bring people together, both when it’s easy and especially when it’s hard.
Time changes everyone. And if we're lucky, we only bring our best selves to the future.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.