Family Don't End With Blood

written by Meg Buchanan

If you ask me what my favorite holiday is, I’ll probably reply, “Halloween.” I love dressing up, I love the creativity, and of course, I love the candy! If I’m being really reflective and honest, though, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and I have one of my fairy godmothers, Gail, to thank for that. Thanksgiving as it’s celebrated by most Americans, with Pilgrim hats and plays about cheerful Puritans and welcoming native people, is not how I see Thanksgiving. In my heart, it’s much more.

I don’t remember much about Thanksgiving before we moved in to the neighborhood where I spent the majority of my life, but thanks to Gail, every Thanksgiving since that year reminds me of warm kitchens, the mingling smells of turkey, ham, veggies, and pie, and putting out the good plates and cloth napkins. We would arrive as Gail was putting her pies in the oven, help set the table, catch up with her family, and the families of our other neighbors and fairy godmothers. I don’t know that it was always at Gail’s house. I also have memories in my mind of Sue and Genece (our other fairy godmothers) hosting just across the street, but that inability to distinguish between all the important times and good dinners is what makes me so thankful for the Thanksgivings and the community in which I grew.

These friends and neighbors were there when I graduated from high school and college. They were there at my wedding, which Gail officiated, and they celebrated with me when I bought my first house. When my mom was fed up with my shenanigans, their doors were open to me. They fostered my love of the arts with trips to the Fox Theatre and attendance at my dance recitals, provided house sitting and dog sitting jobs, and even hired me again after my most disastrous babysitting gigs. I always knew that our neighborhood was special, but it wasn’t until Gail’s recent passing that I understood just how special it was and just how grateful I am to have had our relationship inform who I am as an adult.

So, to honor Gail, Sue, Genece, and all the other neighbors who have shown me the way, I’ll be here to show you the way. People throw around the “blood is thicker than water” phrase a lot these days, but the full saying is, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The people that you and your children form bonds with will forever be your family, regardless of DNA, or who birthed whom. Being there for those people and as those people is profoundly important. Now a fairy godmother myself, I look forward to sharing my stories, learning more about your family, and sorting through the ever-changing, but somehow always-the-same world of bringing up the next generation.