There's a joke in our family that people never leave it, we only suck others into our orbit like a giant black hole. That's probably why I like to explore the balance of the responsibilities of family and finding your own path in my stories.
I believe family is important and vital in everyone's life, but that families aren't always determined by DNA connection. A family are the people who you can call on no matter what is going on. The ones who will help and support, even when there are disagreements. There may be judgment but there is also willingness to take action when needed. Sometimes families are friends, sometimes they're relatives, but family is always there, like a scar. It's not always pretty or comfortable, but it holds everyone together.
Without the safety net of family standing at your back, the world is a terrifying and overwhelming place. But at the same time, it can be hard to step away from the encompassing network and find your own place.
Finding the right balance between accepting the support (and limitations) of family and pursuing one's own goals, dreams and ideals is unique to each person. No one can tell anyone else where the magic balancing point is. Some people will be happy mostly on their own with only one or two connections to rely on. Others will be happiest when enmeshed in a Byzantine maze of hundreds. The more connections, the more obligations are placed on the individual, but the more people are available for help when needed. Help for everything from someone to grab coffee with to delivering shoulders to cry on.
So this holiday, I want to say thank you to all the families out there. No matter what form, how large or how small: thank you.