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  • My whole life, I have always been the new addition to someone else's family. The one that goes from being a guest, to family friend, to 'one of us'. Being told over and over again things like,
    "Don't be silly, you aren't intruding! You're like family now!"
    "You don't have to knock hun, just come on in anytime!"
    "Are you doing anything tonight? Good, because you're coming to family dinner!"
    and "What? You are Catherine's best friend? haha I've thought you were another cousin for years!"

    The only family I had ever known of my own, outside of my siblings and parents, were my paternal grandparents. My grandparents only being for a few days every other Christmas or summer.
    My friends and their annual get-togethers with huge immediate and extended families blew my mind. Though I had gone along to several, the concept was still foreign to me.

    I didn't realize until this past Thanksgiving that 'family' had taken on a different meaning to me because of it.
    After over a decade, I was reintroduced to my aunt, uncle, and cousin and then introduced, for the first time, to my cousin's 3 small kids.

    For the first few hours, I felt awkward and overly conscious of my self and the first impression I was making.
    Walking around my uncle's house, I was careful of where I stood, accepted glasses of water out of politeness, and chose the seat that seemed the least in the way. To me, they were strangers and I was a guest in their house.

    When dinner came and the table set, my aunt poured the first bowl and looked up at me with a smile, "Here SugarBear,this one is yours."
    SugarBear. Something about that name struck me. It seemed so foreign but familiar at the same time.

    As the first evening came to an end, I was surprised by the night's goodbyes. Not by the hugs, but by the 'I love you's and bissous on the cheek.
    As the last night came to an end, the tears and multiple hugs made me realize I wasn't a stranger to them.

    Slowly, with small things like the "I miss you" text from my new buddy of a 2nd cousin, remembering the sinking feeling that came over me as I watched them stand waving in the yard as we pulled out of their driveway for the last time, and showing pictures and being able to say "this is the whole family" and "these are my cute little cousins", it began to sink in. I realized this family was mine.
    I wasn't just the family friend, I finally belonged to them.
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