Anyone who loves and cares for you can be called your family

When you think of “family,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of your siblings, children and grandchildren. But in addition to your traditional family, you may have a chosen family. Those are the friends who have supported and loved you for decades. As our families come together at Thanksgiving, each will look a little different, but what’s the same is that we all care for one another.

Most families evolve throughout the course of life, and sometimes it’s difficult to adjust to these changes. Perhaps your immediate family no longer lives nearby. You might even feel like your family is getting smaller. That’s what’s wonderful about a broader definition of family: You can always choose to expand your family in new ways. Filling your life with a family of choice is a great way to feel secure and loved as you go about your day-to-day activities. 

When I think about what a family looks like, I consider my own youth. I was raised in a family business that was literally in our backyard. If we were eating lunch or dinner and a customer was around, they were invited to join us. Everyone was always welcomed at our house. And until the day my father died, he was still welcoming old customers and neighbors into his home. Some of those folks are still in contact with my family.

I consider my friends of 25 years my family. My best friend of 40 years is family! Family is the friend who helps you celebrate milestones, who shares your concerns and who you can be yourself around. They’re just as willing to share a laugh as a cry. They’re by your side for the mundane and they’ve got your back as you seek out a new adventure.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 76 percent of adults say their family is “the most important” element of their life. You never know when getting out and meeting new people could be the start of your extended family or when it will add to the one you’ve already got going. When I started Vibrante Living, I wanted to create a place where four women could find companionship and hopefully form family-like bonds. These deep connections help you feel energized and excited to tackle all life can offer. 

Even if your family of origin is still together, having a second family filled with friends will bring extra joy to life. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, the important thing to remember is that your family is where your heart is, so as long as you’re surrounded by loving people, you have a family. I’d love to talk more with you about making these kinds of connections later in your life.