Family: flawed, fabulous, adoring, amusing, messy, magnificent, important, irreverent, loyal, loud and yay, it’s year-round.

Just about everyone has one, but chances are yours isn’t like mine and vice versa.

So what makes a family? Everything, anything, the sum of many things. Each family is unique and even, dare I say, weird in some, dare I say, many ways. Although you probably don’t realize the weirdness of your own because it’s just the way your family does things like peanut butter on pancakes or ketchup on potato chips.

As for my family we are good, flawed, loyal and love one another. I like to think our love is unconditional, but that’s a hard term to grasp.

We disagree, fight sometimes, look out for each other, hold each other and build each other up, lean on each other and hug.

Some of us taught the others the ABCs and others taught life lessons we couldn’t ever have imagined. We make one another better. Together we are stronger.

When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us succeeds, we all celebrate. We share the mundane and the extraordinary with equal attentiveness although we probably appreciate the extraordinary a bit more, if I am being honest.

We know our strengths and weaknesses. We know who’s more likely to show up late and who might forget to flush, who hides the ice cream treats and who leaves the milk out on the counter, who likes to nap and who would prefer to sleep in, who uses way too much ranch dip (on pizza), and who can help with technology issues, car problems or grammar or math.

We pick up one another’s messes and make messes sometimes. We listen, talk and listen some more. We sit in comfortable silence, answer each other’s calls or texts, and are friends on Facebook and in real life.

We talk about politics, the weather, life and the future. We tell jokes, and share stories and life. We teach and learn from each other, rub off in good ways on one another and try not to influence each other in the bad ones. We’re not always successful, but we try.

We whisper when someone else is sleeping. We care about each other’s feelings and try to be tender when tenderness is needed. We watch the same shows; cook together and eat together; steal each other’s socks, mittens, combs and brushes, but not toothbrushes, at least not on purpose. Sometimes we steal the blankets.

We share a love of animals, we play laser tag with our cats. Some of us love and some of us hate sweet potatoes. We realize we don’t have to be the same.

We share history, memories and DNA. Over the years, we have nurtured and helped each other grow. We have the same inflections in our voice when we say certain words or phrases. Some people say we look alike, but we don’t see it.

We celebrate birthdays, holidays, graduations and anniversaries. Together we’ve established traditions. We play croquet and board games; create contests out of anything and everything, some of us are more competitive; ride roller coasters, some of us are more daring; laugh at and with each other; enjoy one another’s company, most of the time; look forward to our times together and are important to each other.

We are bonded in a way that can’t be defined or explained, we are imperfectly perfect.

It’s family, us, ours, precious, significant, fundamental, basic and unique, as I hope yours is to you.



Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.