I saw the CNS headline saying that the Synod had given encouragement to the "traditional" families, which suggests that Francis X Rocca's sub-editor thinks there are other kinds of families. The creeping relativism of sub-editors drives me nuts; they should all be sent to theology school.
Personally, I do not think B.A. and I constitute a family on our very own. God has not blessed us with children, so in my view we're just a married couple rattling around a very big house. If we were a tree, we might be a handsome leafy green apple tree--but one of the ones that never bears fruit.
However, if I think of us not as a tree but as a BRANCH of a tree, the tree being our Canadian family whose branches have embraced those of my sister-in-law's Romanian family, then I can think of us as a family. Our branch, I hope, gives support and shade to the fruit-laden branches.
The model of a family that is just PARTNER+PARTNER annoys me to no end. It's like a diet of chocolate: chocolate is all very nice, but it's not enough to keep you going. And what an impoverishment of one's identity to be a PARTNER first and last. I myself am not a partner, but a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a niece, a great-niece, a grand-daughter and a great-grand-daughter. (I'm not really a cousin, though, since I have no first cousins and barely know my second cousins and first cousins once removed. They aren't on the prayer list.)
My family is as rich in relationships as it is because three married couples, my American grandparents, my parents, and my brother's in-laws, had more than one child. My nephew Pirate rightly lobbied me for Scottish cousins, and I told him he should request more cousins from his current source of cousins.
Oh dear. I do wish I could give him Scottish cousins. Instead I will leave him and his Canadian cousins some legal and technical problems when B.A. and I shuffle off this mortal coil--what to do with all the furniture, etc. Poor them. They will have to take time off work and squabble over the paintings. However, the thought cheers me up immensely.
Yes, I am indeed part of a living and growing family, and will be even when I am dead. I envision wonderful three-sided (at very least) discussions about B.A.'s and my health, eccentricities, deaths and property. YAY! And since I was brought up to pray for the soul of my never-married, childless Uncle Art, I see no reason why my niece's and nephews' children shouldn't be brought up to pray for our souls. (Uncle Art, by the way, gave me a wonderful toy broom when I was very small. I loved it. Little did Uncle Art know this gift would help to keep his memory green into the 21st century.)
The only family there is is the "traditional family". However, everyone belongs to one. It doesn't (or shouldn't) matter if you aren't the trunk or the most important or the most fruitful branch or taken from a sick tree and grafted onto a healthier one or, indeed, even alive on earth anymore. Family is family. Blood is thicker than water.