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Episode 31: The Importance of FRamily!

It is a beautiful part of the year: the end of October. Plus, I love Halloween, so I’m pretty excited for the next few days. Back to the the present moment, though. What are we talking about today? The importance of FRamily! What the heck do I mean by framily? I know you’re probably thinking that it’s not a word and that I’m making things up, but I promise I am not. Our family members are often some of the most important people in our lives, but with how much people move around in the world, seeing their family on a regular basis isn’t always an option. We might find ourselves lonely without family nearby. The physical distance can make life a bit rough, especially with the upcoming holidays. But me? I’ve found a way to make my life a lot easier and a hell of a lot more enjoyable: my closest friends. The ones I like to spend holidays with, and the ones that I know are nearby and I can rely on all the time. They’ve become more than friends, they’re framily. Yes, it’s a new word, but we need a title for that special bond. These friends that are now chosen family show us that there are so many benefits of creating your own family of friends.

I'm going to start with the holidays. Holidays with framily can sometimes be so much more relaxed than spending time with your biological family. People often dread visiting relatives because of the expense and headaches of traveling long distances. There’s also a sense of obligation, a feeling that everything should be rainbows and butterflies because you’re related by blood. But sometimes relationships go sour, and forced proximity heavy with expectations just makes things worse. With framily, you get to choose the people you want to spend time with, and usually they live nearby. And they want to spend time with you, too! Take Thanksgiving for instance. Instead of just celebrating Thanksgiving, a lot of our friends celebrate Friendsgiving, which gives you the opportunity to start your own traditions. Every year, when I sit with my family, we get an opportunity to go around and sit at the table before we eat and share what we’re thankful for, which can be lovely. But there’s often a sense of having to prove yourself or act the part of the perfect child/grandchild/sibling. At a friendsgiving, there’s no pressure to visit with grumpy people or someone you just don’t get along with. Instead, you can do things like play games, relax and chat, eat what you want and just enjoy each others’ company without the threat of judgment. Christmas, Easter, all the other holidays aren’t stressful either because we get to really cherish that holiday with our framily without worrying about whether or not you’re meeting expectations. And they share our common interests. One person doesn’t get stuck with all the work because we can potluck a big meal. Gift giving is more fun, like with White Elephant gift exchanges where you never know what you're going to end up with. It’s hilarious to see some of the gifts that come up, and who tries to steal something from someone else.

Obviously holidays aren’t the only times we get together. There are many beautiful moments in life that we share with those we care about. Over the years, I’ve had so many different beautiful events for my children, including birthdays and graduations, and my framily is always there. Without a doubt, without fail, they show up and they get to share the joy of that time with me, my husband, and my daughters. We get to celebrate births and new beginnings, weddings, the things that mean so much more to us now, especially in our own little world.

Framily often offered support when I was struggling with being isolated because of the pandemic. I was able to have wine and conversations online with my girlfriends, and we made our visits together so intentional. We made it a priority to take care of each other, and we were able to talk about all those things that meant so much. We lifted each other up, even when we weren’t able to be physically near, and those relationships are strong even today. If someone’s down, we make sure we reach out. If someone needs to be spoken to or someone needs a shoulder to cry on, that’s what we’re there for. Also, everyone treats you better. Because it’s full of people you like to be with, and they choose you, too, there’s a lot more respect inherent in the relationships. While you might feel your family will take advantage of you because of blood tie obligations, framily tends to avoid doing that. Everyone has to continually treat each other with love and respect to keep that framily bond in place. And all of the members of the framily understand that they have to nurture the connections or risk it falling apart. Being part of a framily also gives you the opportunity to give back to those people who give you so much throughout the year. When they need help with their kids or their pets, we can be there to help. We’ve been able to be there when someone needs a ride to the airport, a listening ear, help in an emergency, or someone to hold their hand.

As a child, I was always told that family comes first. And unfortunately, in life that’s not always the case. As we've tried to instill that in our own family, we recognize now that families come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Many families are filled with kind respectful, fulfilling relationships, but blood isn’t the only important bond. Friends are family, too, and I wouldn’t change my framily for anything in this world.


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