This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the different manifestations of family in our lives. As an adoptive family, we’re living proof that clans are formed in all kinds of ways. But there are less obvious examples of this, too.
A band, for instance, is a family. Scott’s band is a family with whom I’ve traveled the world for the past eight years. We don’t always like each other, but we share an intimacy and a common purpose that always manages to unite us in the end.
For those of us who live far from our families or who might be estranged from them for one reason or another (writing a memoir, for instance), chosen families are an essential part of holidays. We’ve spent the past four Thanksgivings at my beautiful, graceful friend Claire’s house, along with her generous family and a coterie of interesting friends. Tariku is obsessed with Claire’s teenage daughter and while he was stalking her, I actually got a chance to breathe and converse with grown-ups.
There is a banner at their house on which people write what they’re thankful for. This year, T did a little drawing on the banner and not far from his picture was a note that Scott wrote two years ago, saying he was thankful for Tariku, the son we were waiting to go pick up in Ethiopia. My chest contracted for a moment remembering that unbearable limbo state, when I carried a picture of T around with me and wielded it like a shield against an endless barrage of well-meaning questions. I remembered the terrible holidays that year, when we knew about T but we couldn’t go get him for another three months.
And now we were spending Thanksgiving with this same chosen family and my biggest worries were that T would pull the dog’s tail or that he’d eat too much sugar and have a freak out. I looked at that banner and the gratitude beyond words washed over me. I’m immensely grateful for my family this year. I was so filled with the spirit that I even went into the garage today and eyed the ornaments and lights. Then I turned around and walked right back out. This week, though…