Last Updated on April 7, 2018

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” Alex Haley

I was blessed to grow up in a tight-knit, loving family. Every holiday, whether large or small, was celebrated with the family gathering for a meal—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins—multiple generations sharing food and memories. The food and the occasion would change but the faces seldom did.

But several years ago, our little family moved 600 miles away to a state with a different climate, different food, and different traditions. The one tradition that we brought with us was to fill our table with food and memories. Without our biological family to fill the table, we began inviting others to join us. Newcomers to our community, church friends, widows, neighbors, and the lonely who had been abandoned or hurt by their family—an eclectic collage has graced our home. Some of our guests have been one-time visitors and a few have become regulars. And each one has helped to redefine my definition of “family.”

We cannot determine our ancestry, but we can choose our family. We can open our doors and our hearts to those outside our blood lines and share a meal and make memories.

Our “Southern Family” includes Aaron and Janie, the first couple to invite us to share life together in our church family. “Aunt” Kathy was my son’s foster mom before we adopted him and is now a beloved member of our family. We celebrate Christmas with our children’s biological aunt and uncle and cousins and biological brother. Miss Carol next door is an honorary grandmother to our children. God formed our family in our new community and each one is just as precious as our biological family.

Who can you invite to join your table? Whether it’s Friday pizza and movie family night or a traditional holiday gathering, open your home and heart to redefine family.

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