Each December a series of tiny treasures arrive in my mailbox. A Cat Lovers Against the Bomb calendar. A refrigerator magnet from my favorite cinema. Return address labels with snowflakes. Gifts from good causes all hoping to receive a return gift from me. I love making lists, so the penguin and reindeer notepad was about to be saved from the recycle bin when I noticed the personalization, “The Koenig Family, 1266 South 13th Street.”
A subtle sadness washed over me as I thought, “No family lives at this address.”
“Family” for me has long equaled a husband and children living under one roof. And this connection of beliefs took my neurons down an instant path to a bit of the blues.
The truth: My living without a husband or children is not sad.
I get to have my beautiful home all to myself. Every color on a wall, rug on a floor, pot on a rack, and blanket on my bed is of my choosing. Every project on the dining room table and jar on the kitchen counter is there without guilt. Even the temperature of the thermostat on a cold December night is mine alone to choose, and no one can complain if I play each and every one of the hundreds of songs in my Christmas collection…thrice.
The truth: I have many families.
I have my children. Although they were not with me for Thanksgiving, they will be at my dining room table in twenty days (Yep, I’m counting).
I have my birth family. Four brothers, two sisters, two nieces, six nephews, and a slew of “grands” and “laws”. It’s enough to make a person feel greedy!
I have my office family. They greet me with a smile at the start my days, notice my new shoes, and have passed me a tissue for my tears countless times over the years.
I have my community family. They are ever present for me when I long to gather to celebrate, advocate, or meditate.
I have my family of friends. They bring me flowers. I bring them soup. We share memories, laughter, and love year after year.
I often remind myself that I don’t believe every thought I get. Just because I think it doesn’t make it true. I may think a thought that causes me to suffer (“No family lives here. That’s sad”). Then I do, I know it’s an opportunity to examine my thought to see whether or not it’s even true.
For a while I allowed three little words “The Koenig Family” to take away my joy of the day. Instead I can recognize the truth, and it fills me with appreciation of both the luxury of having none of them living at 1266 South 13th Street while having all of them blessing my life beyond measure.
I may be writing one more end of year donation check to give my thanks to the folks who gifted me this precious reminder delivered by Rudolph.