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January 11, 2014

Teenhood Today: You don't choose family, but I'd never change it

The Daily Star

---- — You can choose your friends. You can get to know people who you click with. You can choose who to talk to and who to spend time with. But it’s not that way with family.

Family is an interesting thing. It’s a collection of people who have been thrust together without much choice. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I’ve been extremely blessed to have them all in my life. But I still find it an interesting concept.

I’m writing this two days after Christmas, so the aftermath of the stupendous holiday is still playing out. We have most of the extended family here. The adults are playing Trivial Pursuit, my male cousins are playing Minecraft, a few people are cleaning and doing the dishes, and everybody else has an electronic device out. And then there’s me over in the comfy chair with the laptop, writing this column.

Typically, your friends have similar experiences with life. They are in about the same place, in terms of existence, with just enough variance to make things interesting. 

Not so with family. Most people are in completely different places. They live all over the country, or world, as is my family’s case. Some cousins are in college, some still in diapers. Some people are planning 50th anniversary parties and others high school graduations. The weather is actually something interesting to talk about. Some people arrive from shoveling three inches of snow off of their driveway and others three feet. 

Some family members are pro-life; others are pro-choice. Some people are vegetarian and others are avid hunters. It’s an extremely diverse group, and yet everyone is connected.

Every family has story after story of outrageous childhood adventures, vacations and food eating contests that resulted in the spewing of said food. It’s that past that connects the people with radically differing futures.

It’s weird for me to think of my parents, aunts and uncles having a similar relationship to that of my brothers and me. It makes me wonder about what my immediate family will look like in the future. Will I be the crazy aunt who all of my brothers’ kids are afraid of? Will I live a couple thousand miles away from my parents and spend Christmas together over Skype? Will I live two doors down from a brother and be the annoying sister who shows up every night for dinner?

People make comments all the time about how close my parents and I are, but will that last after I move out? I really hate the idea of never really talking to my family. I’m a very people-centered person, so I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I’m never talking to my parents or only calling up my brothers when I’m elected Empress of the World. But you never know what will happen in the future.

For now I’m just thankful for the Minecraft games, Trivial Pursuit, and shared stories. I’m learning not to take anything for granted, and I certainly don’t want my fabulous immediate and extended family to be something I brush to the side as unimportant. I truly am an extremely blessed person!

Miriam A. Thurber is a junior at Unatego Central School. ‘Teen

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