There’s an old joke that goes, “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Okay, I know, it’s gross (but that doesn’t mean it’s not also funny). Then there’s the adage that says, “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” And at this time of year, when family gatherings are everywhere you look (at least on the Hallmark Channel and your favorite retailer’s website), I believe it’s important to remember that, sure, blood may be thicker than water — but it can also be, well, bloody.
With details left aside, when it comes to friends or family, I’ll choose friends all the time (except, of course, for B., who is both best friend and “best family”). Not every family belongs in a Norman Rockwell painting; not every family relationship is supportive; not every family dynamic is a positive one. Sure, the Waltons were all about the love, the loyalty, and the lifelong bonds that — yes, it’s true — some families are fortunate enough to share. But that’s not the case for everyone. The sweet, simple “Good night, John-Boy — Good night, Elizabeth” may have echoed through the decades on Walton Mountain but may not resonate on the plane where the rest of us live. And that can make you feel as if you’ve failed. But you haven’t. Just because someone shares your DNA doesn’t mean that he or she shares your sensitivities and sensibilities. Your sense of right and wrong. Your sense of humor (okay, that one isn’t a requirement but it helps).
The good news is that owning that truth and being okay with it (and, yay me, I’m almost there), goes a long way to soothing the disappointments and healing the heart’s wounds. That, and good friends.
So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I need to share how grateful I am for my dear, dear friends (the “water” in my life) who love me, nurture me, and care about me. Who boost my confidence and believe in me. Who celebrate when I bloom and bring sunshine when I start to wilt. From the East Coast to the West; from Santa Barbara to Santa Fe; from LA to New York City to the length of Long Island; from San Francisco to Chicago — consider this my love letter to you. I love you all. Thank you for picking me.
But no, you can’t pick my nose.
ⓒ 2018 Claudia Grossman