A tremendous source of energy for me is spending time with as much of my extended family as I can.
I am blessed beyond measure in this regard. My family is wonderful. I often hear people tell stories of traumatic or at the least unpleasant experiences with their family, and it makes me very sad. I want for them what I have.
I have a clan. The people in this clan are all connected, but they’re far from all blood relatives. Two of my most beloved uncles growing up, Uncle Tony and Uncle Louie (sadly, both gone from this world, but not without leaving tremendous impact and long lives) were both unrelated to me at all, but were neighbors-like-family going all the way back to my grandparents’ childhoods. Other people are connected by marriage, by godparent-godchild relationships, or simply (as is often the case) because we’ve adopted them in some way.
My family has gravity. People who don’t have a family like ours get pulled in. Our major family holidays have a hundred or so people at them. When I was growing up, I first assumed everyone was related to me in some way, as I have a wide and wild web of third cousins once removed and great aunts and everything else. Then, I learned how many of them were related in some way other than blood, and then at a certain age I figured out to ask, “wait, if we’re not their family, why do they spend Christmas with us? Don’t they have their own family?”
We were their family. We absorbed them because they were good and we loved them. Clan can mean what you make it.
Now I go to clan gatherings and there are twenty children running around, mine included. They laugh and play and form bonds the way we did. They don’t know who’s a second cousin and who’s a friend from daycare and it doesn’t matter. They’re all family, friends, clan.
There is so much benefit to putting effort into a clan. A group that doesn’t have to be united around common interests or shared professional goals. United instead by a kindness and love that can fill in all other gaps, support everything else, and give you a place in the world.
I know I am blessed beyond measure, and I know that not everyone has that. But every clan must start with one person, and you can be that. You too can gather the strays with good hearts, and you can help carve a place for them. You can be the clan you want to have.