Of course, this only represents a small portion of my heritage. To truly represent it, I would also need to say "my family," in Swedish, Celtic, Gaelic, English, French (if you go back far enough). . .
I just stuck with Italian and Portuguese, though, because thats the same ethnic blend that I share with my wonderful extended family - my paternal second cousins. It was so much fun seeing them again, the first time in two years. And the circumstances, of course, were much more pleasant considering the last time we were together, it was for my Great Aunt's memorial service.
Yesterday was a different story though, fun and casual, full of laughter and hugs and seeing my own mannerisms in extended family, watching my little brother's facial expression flash across the face of a 50 year old man living in California, hearing stories I could barely believe when my mom told them repeated verbatim from someone else. Who laughed just as hard as she did!
The whole evening reminded me that family is not the same thing as biology. Family isn't how closely you're bloodlines match up and how often you see each other.
It's about the people who make you laugh, the people who have your back. It's about shared experiences and a certain kind of understanding - whether that understanding stems from similar relatives or something else. And there is no such thing as the perfect or the ideal family - not everyone society says are our nearest and dearest necessarily are. And the opposite can be true, when a friend becomes closer than your brother, a cousin like your mom. Family is really, mostly, about one thing. . . above all else it's about Love.
Yes, thats a cliche. But you know what, folks? Most cliches have at least one foot settled firmly in the truth. So Amo la mia famiglia. And I hope you love your family too - whoever they are, wherever they are.