Families can be strife and misery and even the best can be tense as children grow and assert themselves in new ways and as the tragedies and disagreement pulls against the natural and nurtured links.
But there are little moments when the family seems like the most wonderful refuge from a cruel world.
At Thanksgiving two of my cousins and their families and one of my aunts joined FFP and I and Dad and my niece and her family (in from Colorado to help my dad) for Thanksgiving at Dad's because he couldn't travel. The meal came out great with contributions brought distances or purchased and then put together in a kitchen unfamiliar to all of us. Above you see my great niece with my cousin's 22-year-old son. She fell head over heels for her cousin of some sort (I can never figure out all that ordinal number and removed stuff). Having an older, grown but still young, relative pay attention to a three-year-old is one of the amazing things about families.
There was another moment in the last couple of days when I thought "that's why families work." My niece and her husband were sitting on a couch and their three-year-old daughter (above) was snuggling between them in that way little kids have of getting secure by getting as close to one or more parent as possible. My dad was in his chair (his 'throne' he calls it) and I was sitting nearby. We were laughing and joking, all comfortable with each other. It felt like moments during holidays and such when you were just sitting around and drinking coffee, maybe playing games or just having a conversation, secure in your family and its inside jokes and confident that we can all grow a little older and weather what comes and still be a family.