Saturday, June 20, 2015

Extended Family

Name a country. Any country. The odds are that I will tell you about a friend I know there. My husband calls it name dropping but I like to think of it more as door opening. I love to offer connections, homes, people to travelers. And while I have been bringing up a lot of things that are hard on TCKs, like moving, walls, and loss, I want to talk about something that makes a lot of those hard things not as hard. The people.

I think that if you asked most TCKs what their dream place is they would respond something like, "someplace where I could gather all the people I love at the same time." I know that if that place existed on this earth that it would be my answer to "where is home to you?"Alas, that place does not exist on this planet.

In my boarding school dorm there was this tradition/practice where another family or some teachers who cared about us lonely dorm kids would take us for a day or a weekend. They called it extended family time. These people were obviously not related to us, but the idea was that, by being a part of our lives, they also became something akin to family (excuse the pun).

As my husband and I get ready to move (yet again) my mom reminded me that we have also formed a type of family here. While I am packing up she expressed that she wished she could be here helping me, but she knows that the friends we have here will be her stand-ins; the community we have here is our Virginia family.

I love that. I think that it can happen whether or not you are a TCK but that it is so prevalent in TCK lives, due to being so far from blood relatives, and, truthfully, something about being displaced brings people together. It forms an extended family bond quickly and usually out of necessity.

We have this hanging in our home
To me, all those names I drop, those connections, those doors I open, are all people who have played a part in my life and whom I would highly recommend to play a part in others' lives. It is my way of extending my extended family to others. You are moving to Germany? Would you like a brother, or a sister? To Egypt? How about a substitute mother and father or a mentor? To Uruguay? Let me point you to a home cooked meal. Let my people become your people. Let our lines cross, our colors bleed into each other.

We become one huge family, and suddenly there are places and people that we can call home anywhere and everywhere.

My parents just went to a conference for the people in their organization and it overwhelmed me when they said that as they told people about Tim and I moving to Indonesia all sorts of open arms and helping hands extended to us. And my parents were, in turn, able to open up hands back to them for me by pointing people to this blog, which I hope can be a place for you to read words that are familiar to your heart, that connect us througout the globe, that allow our colors to bleed into each other and make a beautiful work of art across this small world. I'm so thankful for the extended family that I have, and for the extended family that I will keep forming.

So, where are you traveling next? I bet I know someone there that you should meet...

How have you built extended families in your life?


  1. It was fun visiting my wife's family in China shortly after we were married, because it was a similar feeling! I was in a country totally foreign to me and suddenly had an extended family I never knew before. :)

    Glad to hear you guys have some connections already where you're headed next!

    1. Exactly! The world can become such a small place when you have family on the other side of it. What a cool experience! I am still meeting Tim's family (his dad is one of twelve kids...) and each one I meet makes my family that much bigger. It is amazing! And he is slowly meeting people who have been family in my life from all over the globe. In fact, he just recently met someone who knew me as a little troublemaker in PerĂº who I thought I would never see again, much less be able to introduce my husband to. It was a moment I will always cherish, introducing new family to old family, sharing moments with people I love.