Family Vs. Relatives

Geeky wedding

Getting Hitched with family in attendance.

We all have family, we all have relatives, most of us think the two are the same. For Odds especially, this isn’t true. I have a lot of relatives, Aunts, uncles, cousins etc. that aren’t family. I have a lot of family that is no more genetically related to me than belonging to the same species accounts for. I think this probably holds true for most of us, whether Odds or not.

Think about it. We all have that person who is closely related by blood that we have nothing to do with, nor any desire to do so. We have to tolerate them at family reunions or whatever, but wouldn’t cross the street to say Hi to.  In this age of Social Media we also have people with no genetic link that we will travel long distances to see. I think we need new terminology to signify this.

I have someone I look forward to seeing every year at the con we both attend. He is important to me, though there is no communication between us outside the con. If I knew he was coming through the area I would travel quite a distance to spend an afternoon with him, but he has no acknowledged relationship to me. Conversely I have blood kin within 20 minutes that I haven’t seen intentionally in decades. Why should the cousin I don’t want to see have a specific relationship while the man I do want to see, and will pick up conversation with where we left off has no status?

Friendship isn’t what I’m talking about either. There are lots of folks in some of my online groups that I don’t particularly like that I will travel to see. Because, no matter how annoying they can be they are the family of my heart. Relatives OTOH we see because we are stuck doing so. I honestly think we may need new words to describe these people.

Friends and partners

YOu can make family through ties that bind, and they aren’t always the obvious ones.

You see, a good man taught me by example that family isn’t blood. I had something unusual back in the middle of the twentieth century, a stepfather. While “blended families” are common now, they were unusual then. My stepfather taught me that the people of your heart are not necessarily the people of your blood. He raised me as his son and made no difference between me and his son, my half-brother. Oh yeah, there were differences but those were difference of personalities, not love.

Since then I have known that family is of the heart. Many of you, my readers, are family of my heart. Many relatives are not. Very little of it is truly shared interest. The truth is that you are a (insert random geekiness here) nerd and I am not. Many of you are video nerds, I am not even sure who is the Doctor’s companion now. I am a big fan of a particular subset of mysteries, most of you are not cross genre fans. We are still family.

If one of us wants prayer or “good vibes” if comes automatically from the heart. If some of our relatives want the same it comes of duty or not at all. Why should we consider someone genetically related important, while someone with a place in our hearts has no importance and is “just an acquaintance” baffles me.

We just had gay marriage made the law of the land, shouldn’t we be able to make ourselves family bonds and have them recognized too?


10 comments on “Family Vs. Relatives

  1. My attitude and policy has long been, “My family is who I say it is.” Between a father who walked out on us two weeks after my youngest sister was born and a maternal grandmother who harped on the whole “blood is thicker that water” (no matter *how* shabbily your relatives may treat you–and your friends don’t count at all) rubbish, I came to the conclusion that family ultimately comes down to who you care about, and who cares about you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is my attitude as well, most of the Baen Barflies are family, even the ones who haven’t had a realistic view of anything in decades. Many of my relatives I have avoided for decades.


  2. To quote Bobby Singer from Supernatural: “Family don’t end with blood.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that Social Media has diluted the true meaning of the word “Friend” and this is why we are searching for deeper words.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is truth in that, one of the reasons some people use the term FB friends, just to imply that the relationship is superficial


    • I think the terms do exist, and in English, though I don’t know them. Some guide to finding them may be winkled out of the family structure of the Free Traders in Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy. RAH did his research and found — and used — the terms not only applicable to individuals, but also to tribal and clan structures. There are hints that there is a whole universe of relational concepts, complete with a taxonomy of individuals and groups if only one studies the lore to understand it. But I’m too lazy. So I sic a bunch of smart and obsessive people on the problem in the hopes that they’ll educate me down the road, teaching what they’ve learned in their search.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. We may have a bit different views on “family,” but I think most everyone understands friendship. What it ought to be, even if they don’t have one right now their own selves, that is.

    When I was about five, still shortest in my class, we’d been having about a funeral every nine months for as long as I could remember. Given the size of my family, there’d be a baby come along almost as often, for a while there. This was at a funeral though.

    About a dozen of us ankle-biters was, well, bein’ kids. Running, laughing, playing games in the parking lot. At the funeral home. In our Sunday best. If y’all have ever been to one of those kind, where over two hundred people (and their spawn) show up to see someone off for the last time, you understand. There *is* a limit, though.

    Aunt Francis corralled a few of the noisier ones, and me (who was so quiet they though I was autistic), and gave us what for:

    “Young ‘uns, you know better than this. Your maw and paw are both in there, yes you too Johnny, and the service is about to start. So git inside, button up, sit still, and don’t make me take y’all out back before the service is done. That’s your” *thinks for a sec* “Great, great grandmother on your mothers’ daddies’ side. Someday, we’ll all have to do this for you, too.” By which I got to learn that family was important.

    Even the ones we don’t like, such as the two time thief of a cousin back in jail I could mention. Or the other one that “borrows” $20, over and over again, without paying you back. And you love them, even the bad ones. It’s why you get so upset when they don’t do right, when you know they were raised better than that, or weren’t but should have learnt better by now. Maybe they need it the most, because nobody else will. You don’t have to *like* them, mind.

    Family is who you go to when you’ve got nowhere else to go, is another thing Aunt Francis taught me.

    Friends- and by this I mean the true ones, the ones who will get up at three to drive an hour to where you’re at because your car broke down in the middle of no-where-ay-tall, the kind you call first when its good news or bad- friends are the family you choose. I know, that saying has been said about husbands and wives (and a good thing, too!), but it is also true of the ones we love that are only family in the long view.

    Friends are the ones who, when we’ve been laid up in the hospital for a day, call us up and ask why the bloody blue heck we didn’t let them know, and do we need a good pair of socks (because hospital beds are bloody *cold!*), and we feel bad about it. Friends are the opposite of “alone,” you can be alone in a crowd. Friends understand, but don’t judge. Friends can make the awful, bearable. A true friend would do darn near anything for you a family member would, but doesn’t *have* to.

    Though we were raised a bit differently I think, we both believe that friends *matter.* The family of the heart does not oblige you to do anything, as the family of the blood might. The ones who are there for you because they *want* to be, those are the ones that make life worth living.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Adopted family.

    There’s lots of jokes among strong friends about “oh, she’s the aunt born in another family” or “he’s my brother by another mother…and father”– but it’s speaking to truth.

    It’s a friend that’s beyond “friend” status; the relatives you mentioned… they’ve been disowned, or they disowned you, although we don’t recognize it these days in any formal way.

    Liked by 1 person

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