Last night I was one of the stops on a progressive dinner Christmas party that included my local family . . . the ones I've chosen to invite into my home, my life, my decisions.
Today my home town is honoring my stepfather for his 80th birthday. As the town doctor for almost 40 years he brought most of the town's 2000 residents into the world. When I asked whether the Tennessee clan wanted me there for this party or for Christmas, the answer was unanimous, so I'm missing today's celebration. But I called this morning to start the day with them and I plan on calling to get the blow by blow later.
The families we're born to and those we choose -- I feel so incredibly fortunate that both of mine love the other. My mother may wish I was closer to home but she speaks with the parental pride evident when a child makes first string or gets the lead in the play when she says, "I know they look out for you, Karen. Tell them all hi." And then proceeds to ask about each by name.
When my circle of friends joined hands last night to recognize that we are not together by chance and express our gratitude for the forces that brought us together and continue to bind us, I remembered again how right it all is. Like the family of my birth, we ignore certain behaviors, tolerate others, and push back when necessary. Like the family of my birth, we may not always like each other, but love will always be a part of our circle.