Leave it to a wedding to put it all together. So, you've probably seen the show, but I haven't. I have seen the cast, though, and I know the setup. Modern Family, I think, gets it right, based on anecdotal evidence.
I was at a family wedding last week, and in doing so, I got to see the whole crew together, probably for the first and last time.
At the core, and I admit I'm bragging here, were my wife and I married 32 years with two children. Core, I say, because we have the longest-lasting marriage and the inherent stability that goes with that. And it really isn't fair because we were nothing but guests at the wedding, not in it in any way.
I have one sibling, an older brother, who has now been married twice, the second time seems destined to last. His first wife was Japanese; his second wife is Jewish. Because of this, he has two biracial children, and another, younger one with his second wife who is Jewish because that societal trait is said to pass through the mother. So his first wife's family was there, including a sister who had flown in from Japan. His second wife's family was there in full force, being a close-knit, social Jewish family who support each other regularly.
My father was not there and my brother and I are the only direct representatives of his people.
My mother is deceased, but her sister, my aunt, was there, along with my two cousins. One cousin has a son by an African-American man whom she did not marry. My other cousin is gay and lives with her partner.
And having delineated that, I present to you the typical American family--without extending very far, it includes more than one gender, more than one sexual orientation. I can't help but saying that this gives me great comfort. I grew up in more than one well-to-do all-white suburb, and to gain that kind of diversity without even trying is, to me, an easy connection for me to the rest of the world. That I could gain such an amazing family with such a multitude of backgrounds from simple beginnings in Ohioview, PA and North Tonawanda, NY, from grandparents with any number of limitations is nothing short of wonderful.
My grandfather on my father's side came here as an immigrant from Hungary at the age of 14, when he went off on his own. He met a girl in France during WWI and brought her home, and they lived a small, disciplined life in western Pennsylvania where they tried to downplay their ethnicity and became so "American" that they refused to have anything to do with my brother when he married a Japanese woman.
My grandparents on my mother's side were more social, but still lived isolated lives near Buffalo, NY. Most likely, they would have been equally troubled to have a great-grandson who was half black. One memorable comment from my grandmother as she watched the Today Show way back when and looked at Bryant Gumbel was, "My, isn't he a handsome Negro."
And so to have natural human inclinations give me the extended family I now have feels just that--natural.
We live in a country now where there are any number of attempts to thwart the natural inclinations of good people because of politics, religion, narrow-mindedness, bigotry, hatred, misunderstanding, and any number of other reasons. But I gaze at my clan and I think, alas, you are fighting a battle that is already so far behind you. With each passing day, we all become more and more one people and I don't think that anyone can do anything moral to prevent that natural course of events. I hope not.