Creating Family

I’ve been thinking a lot about community, maybe because it seems to be fraying across the country, and maybe because this is the time of year when we most want to be with family, whether it’s our biological tribe or one we created.

I grew up in a large family, so a holiday celebration like Thanksgiving consisted of my parents, my six siblings and my grandparents sitting around a large table laden with food. I know there  are families who still get together like that, but most of my friends have created alternatives. If you never had children or your only son lives too far to get home for the holidays, then invite all your friends over—and maybe the next-door neighbors who don’t have any close relatives.

As older people, we share several challenges in creating community. Most of us are retired, so we’ve lost our comrades in labor. As a journalist, I worked with groups of people with shared ideals. That sharing didn’t end after we made our deadlines; often we would go out for drinks after we put the newspaper to bed for the night. But once I retired, that community was gone, although I’ve been lucky to maintain several of those friendships.

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