I believe that family is more than relation by blood.
I was born in Berlin but when I was about 2 years old my family, together with a couple of other people and families bought an old east German farm. So I grew up in a commune. You might think this was just a bunch of Hippies smoking pot and practicing “free love.” Well it wasn’t the people there tried to live ecologically and shared cars, food and also some of their money.
Though it was sometimes very hard for our parents to have to make every decision based on other peoples ideas, we kids had the time of our lives. Having as much space as you could possibly need as a child we were just a group of kids of all ages running wild; playing, running, fighting and playing all day long and in the evenings going back to our families for dinner. Everybody else seemed as much my brother or sister as my real sister for children don’t really distinguish between that. As we grew up some people moved away, some people developed differently than I but there was still something we shared which went beyond friendship.
A few years ago the daughter of an old friend of my dad’s from California came to stay with us for 8 months. She was 22 and had taken off some time from studying. One night we were looking at pictures on facebook. The folder name was “my family” and as I saw a picture of another family, very closely connected to hers, I immediately said: “but Holly, that’s not your family!” I thought I had pointed out an error in her filing but she answered: “Why would this not be my family? I’m sick of everybody telling me who is my family and who isn’t”
I thought about this and she was right. There were plenty of people that I would consider my family, had I ever thought of it that way.
When my sister had come back from the United States and it was my turn to go, we wondered what family I could stay with, and my sisters host family immediately said: “You’re family, you can come anytime you want”
So they are now slowly becoming like a second family to me. They don’t need to be related to me, I don’t have to have known them forever and I don’t even have to have lived with them but they can still be family.
To me family is, knowing that you can be yourself and whatever bad things you do, those people will not just walk out of your life. So as my life goes on, my family will grow more and more, without children being born or people marrying.
And that is what I believe in.