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What’s the first thing you picture when you hear the word, “family?”

Your parents, kids, your nuclear family or giant holiday get-togethers with fifty people? If you’re like me, it’s a combination of those things PLUS the friends who have become like family — the quirky perverts who text you dirty jokes to cheer you up; who pop over for dinner and play Legos with your kids; or who agree that yes, that guy over there is definitely checking you out (even if he isn’t).

All of us have ebbs and flows where we’re closer or more distanced from family, but the ones who stick around despite time and distance and the shitty ups and downs become our tribe.

For centuries it seems like family was all about blood — royal bloodlines, surnames, lineage, loyalty, etc. In many towns across the country, this persists. If your last name is [fill in the blank] you were probably born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but if you were born into that family, you’re probably trash.

familyMore and more, however, we’re seeing that the traditional model of “family” is expanding. How wonderful that friends bind together to support one another. How fantastic (and overdue) that same-sex couples and their children are more likely to be given the same recognition and benefits as hetero ones.

We have work families, hobby families, church families, step-families, in-laws and fur babies. Not a day goes by when we shouldn’t thank our lucky stars and be grateful these people (and pets) were sent into our lives.

And yes, writers form tribes as well, consisting of not only fellow author friends and editorial teams, but readers too. For that, I have immense gratitude.