I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a big family like the McAlisters in Home Alone, with lots of generations to pile in together on holidays and vacations. We did not have that on either side growing up, and while Abby seems to be set for a more cousin-rich future than I had, I have still tried to take a more active role in expanding our family circle.
I’m inspired by my parents, who still hang out with friends they made 15 or 20 years ago. Over the years, they’ve done family camp, swim parties, and church events, and now they enjoy “empty nest” grownup time together. They have attended funerals of each others’ parents and weddings of each others’ kids. For folks with this much in common, the difference between “friends” and “family” seems very arbitrary. Recognizing this, someone along the way coined the word “framily” to refer to their special relationship.
Stephen and I like occasionally to take stock of the other young families in our orbit, wondering who among them we’ll count among our friends 20 years from now. It sounds kind of calculating, but we do take special notice of other couples who share our values and parenting styles, whose family personalities are compatiable with ours, and, maybe most importantly, who seem to like us as much as we like them. Those are the friends who might one day be part of our framily, and we make a point to cultivate those relationships in the midst of our busy routines.
Mostly, this looks a lot like loyal friendship: lunch after church, New Years’ Eve around the fire pit, play dates in the park on nice days. It also means that we resolve to say “yes” to opportunities to build bonds with special friends. Yes, we can help you move. Yes, we’ll watch your kiddos. Yes, we’ll come for a visit. Yes, we’d love to hang out at the park this weekend. Even when it’s a short-term inconvenience, we value the long-term benefits of all those “yeses” stacked up on top of each other.
Usually friends become framily without a lot of fanfare. But occasionally it happens in “official” ways, and that’s always exciting. Over the Christmas break we agreed to become godparents to our friends’ precious little girl. Now we’ve promised before God to stay close with our friends and to participate in their daughter’s important milestones. That “yes” was a no-brainer.
We’re also dabbling in the arranged marriage business where Abby is concerned. We’ve got our eye on this little friend of hers, because we’re sure he’s going to grow into an eligible match and because one day we’d like to add “grandchildren” to the list of things we have in common with his parents.
We are so blessed to have family that we adore on both Stephen’s and my side. It seems extravagant that we get wonderful friends also. But then again, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.