The Bonds that Unite Us

One wrong step can change everything.

We managed to outrun one of the biggest November snowstorms in recorded history, only to have the week change by a missed step.

This year we are staying in a new location, and the house has a few quirks. Like a step down into the room we’re staying in for the week. A wrong step caused a hospital visit (a broken bone, nothing life-threatening), an unknown bill, and a slow drive home. It also means we postponed our Thanksgiving by a day.

(C) 2018 JJ Shaun
Our Thanksgiving feast.

During the years that we’ve traveled east of the Mississippi, we’ve become friends with a lot of people we wouldn’t otherwise know. Some of those friends are now part of our extended family. They’ve offered space in their homes when we visit for the week. Knowing that you have “family” around when you need support is priceless. Every year, I am gobsmacked when I realize how many folks out here look forward to our annual visit.

In our lives, the term “family” doesn’t just mean those of us born or married into our blood family. Our family is large and extends across the country. I think we have friends in just about every state in the union. The best part is, while we might have different political and religious views, we respect each other enough to keep those topics out of the conversation. We know what each other’s opinions are and respect them. We have no need to bring up divisive issues and ruin the visit. We miss steps for that.

Even though this holiday has taken an unforeseen turn, our family here has offered so much help that it feels a bit like home, and that is an incomparable feeling. Having this much love and support when we are a thousand miles from home doesn’t have a price tag.

I grew up the ultimate “nuclear family.” We didn’t live close to either my mom’s or my dad’s family most of my life, so I didn’t know most of my aunts, uncles, or cousins. I still don’t, but social media has made it easier to stay in touch with the dozen or so family members that I do know. I could pass more than half my cousins on the street and not recognize them.

This year, I want to say “thank you” to my family—both those to whom I am related and to those who have a permanent place in my life. I wouldn’t be the same without you.

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