I wrote my last editor’s letter professing my undying love and appreciation for my oldest and dearest girlfriends. My words must have struck a chord, because I’ve never had so much (supportive and, admittedly, some critical) feedback from readers. But one letter was from my amazing 20-year-old niece, Jessica, who asked if I would ever write something similar about our family. Since October contains Thanksgiving, one of my all-time favourite family holidays — plus, I have a hard time saying no to my relatives — here it is, Jess:
I’ve always thought my family was kind of typical. In fact, I’d venture to say we’re not very #extraordinary at all, but I mean that in the best possible way. My parents divorced when I was four. My mother was my father’s second wife, and I’m the second youngest of five siblings. Some are surprised to hear it, but despite growing up in separate homes (my brother lived with our dad; my oldest sister lived with her biological mother), we all remain very close to this day. I believe this is because my parents respected each other and never made their issues about us, which allowed our relationships with each other to flourish. Neither my mom nor my dad remarried, and when my dad died suddenly when I was 18, it was a shock but one that, thankfully, strengthened our family’s bond.
Between the five of us we have 13 kids. Add cousins and their children, aunts and uncles, and everyone’s in-laws (hi, Ewarts!), it’s a great big web o’ people, personalities and perspectives. And I wouldn’t change a thing. There are people with special needs, chronic illnesses and survival stories. There are also countless get-togethers, email exchanges and random phone calls just to see how everyone is doing. And, best of all, tons and tons of laughter.
We believe in the good in others, and that relationships are more important than money. Karma matters. And if you work really hard, there are no limits to your potential. Our collective philosophy is to never let anyone tell you that you can’t, and that if you want to achieve something, you don’t have to look far to find those who can help you get there. Now that I’ve written this all out, it seems we’re a little bit more extraordinary than I thought. And I’ll bet your family is too.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of many Chatelaine readers when I say I’m grateful for my family. That’s the truth for many of us, if we’re lucky, and Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to get together with loved ones and say, “We are extraordinary because we are the [insert your surname here].”