Sunday, June 28, 2009
Today my family attended the annual family reunion of my maternal grandfather's side of the family. When my mom was growing up the family all lived nearby and she was very close to the family. But for years after she and my father married they didn't attend the reunion. Some years back, it became important to her to attend again. Therefore, it became important to us, although rather than going to see family, we were walking into a room full of strangers. What I have discovered in the years since is that blood does not necessarily make a group of people a family. It takes some effort on everyone's part to become a family including making yourself walk into that room year after year until those people become familiar faces, until you know the names of their children and grandchildren, until you celebrate their joys and sorrows together. It also helps tremendously to have family members like my mother, who is the glue that holds not just her immediate family together but her very extended family as well, for which we are all grateful.
All of which got me to thinking about families in literature. It seems like so many of the families we read about today in literature are dysfunctional. Is this because most families are dysfunctional? Or are they just more interesting to write and read about? I've been reading a lot of books about families this year, including Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons and Home by Marilynne Robinson, but I think I'm still sticking with the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and the Marchs of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as my all time favorite families in literature. Which family is your favorite family in literature?