OSU Extension, Lucas County was fortunate to have the assistance of Michelle during her 2018 internship rotation. She supported the Extension staff with food systems work including mapping, summarizing data, teaching and planning for Dine In day 2018. Please enjoy her guest post this month.
This October was life changing for me. With the passing of my dad, I felt like my world had been turned upside down. The first few weeks after his passing I had an army of family and friends supporting me. As time went on, the text messages became less frequent and the phone calls stopped. I knew this would happen. I would never expect this army of people to continue to check on me forever but it felt like their lives continued while mine had stopped. Fortunately, I have a smaller army of people who love and care for me and continue to lend support. With their love and kindness, I have been able to persevere.
Looking ahead towards the holidays this year, after the passing of my father, I have stopped to evaluate what family really means. Family is a simple word with many connotations. Can it really be defined? The U.S. Census Bureau classifies family as, “a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.” Not only is the definition of family complicated, but families across the country are also very diverse. For the purposes of the census bureau, family members reside together. From a different perspective, family relationships may cross state and national lines. Although birth, marriage, and adoption are formal delineations of family relationships, it is not uncommon for non-related individuals to be family to one another.
I asked my friends to define “family” with these results:
- “Knowing you have a safe place and people who will always love you”
- “The people who support you and love you, blood-related or chosen”
- “People that love you for who you are, not what they want you to be,”
- “Family is blood and who you chose. The people who stand by you no matter what and who you can count on”
- “Unconditional love”
To me, family is the small army that holds you together in your time of need. Families are people, blood related or not, that are willing to sit with you and listen to the same story no matter how many times they’ve heard it before. They love you through your worst times and pick you up when you are down.
I encourage you to evaluate your definition of the word “family”. What does family mean to you? Who is your family? Are they people you choose or the people you were given? Monday December 3rd is “Dine In” day. Regardless of how you define family, do you eat meals together? If not, can you plan to eat a meal together that week? Join the national pledge and share your family mealtime story for #FCSday at the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. At your family mealtime, “ditch the devices” and spend time communicating your different definitions and stories about family.