Maybe in a technical sense, the above write up is correct. Maybe it’s true that an extended family consists only of generations of blood relations all coming together for a common cause of raising future generations and caring for the aging ones. After all, these are your kin and that’s what is expected of a loyal and devoted family. In its simplest terms, the best way I know how to describe it is that come hell or high water, you’ll always be there for each other and in the end you’ll all somehow persevere through the roughest of times and prosper in the best. You share the burdens and the triumphs with almost equal responsibility and thus the load is lightened or enriched for all.

However, in this day and age when so-called nuclear families seem to be drifting further and further apart and the definition of what a “family” consists of varies from household to household, I’m thinking that definition is too exclusive. In my case, all of my relatives save for an older sister whom I haven’t spoken to in years have all gone by the wayside, hopefully to greener pastures. Oh, there are kids from a previous marriage but we too have, sorrowfully in my eye, drifted apart. It seems even in an age of instant communication, some people remain out of touch. In their case, it’s probably for the right reasons. I can’t say I blame them. I wish I could either take back many of the things I’ve done or somehow erase the past and make a new start but for whatever reason, maybe that’s just impossible.

At times I think to myself that I’m alone out on an island or adrift at sea with no land in sight. I’m trapped in this life that I’ve created for myself and that nobody seems “understand” my plight or to be able to determine in which direction I might be headed. I’m sure many of us have, at times, felt the same way.

For me, it usually occurs when things aren’t going so well and you have too much time on your hands and not enough to look forward to. Maybe it’s the loneliness that is brought on by the dead of winter or maybe its watching the smiling faces of families as they traipse through the malls doing their holiday shopping.

Somehow, I feel a sense of jealousy. I know I shouldn’t but at the same time just knowing something isn’t right doesn’t mean you can or should deny it.

So who does one turn to when those feeling start to creep in? Who does one look to when you know you’re too old to be feeling angst ridden and another night on the town isn’t the cure you need?

The answer came in mail…

An innocent little envelope from Anna’s school that I’d usually toss on the kitchen table and ignore. After all, the contents are usually the same. Next month’s hot lunch schedule, some information about upcoming events like bake sales or Girl Scout meetings that I never attend and the obligatory plea for more money or the need for volunteers.

I don’t know what prompted me to open this up but I’m sure glad I did….

Inside was a letter informing me that the attached documentation was the results of something called the California Achievement Tests. Apparently they’re administered on a nation wide basis starting with students in the second grade and continuing through grade eight. Since Anna is in the sixth grade, her school required that she also take the tests. (For all of you out there who have some kind of opinion about standardized tests, I ask you to please allow me my moment. Thank you). After sorting through all the gobbledygook about testing methods and criteria I flip to the page to find out just how my little one did.

  • Reading - 99%
  • Language – 94%
  • Mathematics – 95%
  • Science – 95%
  • Social Studies – 91%
  • Total Score – 98%

    The bottom line is that she wound up being in the top two percent of kids in her age group that took the test. I don’t know if I’ve ever been any prouder.

    After wiping a tear or two from my eyes I call a few close friends and share the news with them. They are ecstatic. They are my extended family

    For those of you that have been here awhile, you know that I write a lot about myself and the trappings and circumstances of everyday life. Most of the ups and downs are out here at E2 in plain sight for all to see. Some of you might enjoy my musings, some of you might not and that’s okay. I’d like to think that no matter how large or small my and her audience might be, we’ve all had a hand in it.

    Either way, you’re all part of my extended family too.

    Thank you.

    This year, for me Christmas arrived at my doorstep a little bit early. I hope I get to enjoy it for the rest of my life.

    I hope you do too.

    From our table to yours, here’s wishing you all the best all the time.