Having just spent most of a week with in-laws, my definitions of family and their impacts on our lives have changed considerably. When I was young, I had the advantage of growing up with many aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, parents and grandparents. Our family gatherings were numerous and remain in my memory as positive, loving events.

Since then, it occurs to me that family doesn’t need to have anything to do with genetics, heritage or shared histories. Why be restrained by the place of birth or relatives who impacted us? My realization is that we can create families that are of any duration or precipitated by chance.

For example, we have all had a meal where the table location or restaurant set-up caused us to have close proximity to others. Oftentimes, we begin conversations, share experiences and feel glad that reality placed us in the same space. A similar camaraderie can occur in a gold mine tour, railroad trip, chance meeting at a birthday party or a myriad of other venues.

Instead of dividing contacts into family and non-family, I prefer to create many families. The relatives I’ve acquired through marriage are as cherished and beloved as many of my birth family members. We can have families in the workplace, charitable organizations and an infinite number of locations. What’s very good about this is that we can share thoughts, experiences and observations with more people and have the potential to enhance their lives – they are family, after all. Shalom.

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