The easy definition of family will likely involve blood relatives...living in the same house...daily interactions, etc. However, I've learned that Family is much bigger than that. In Europe, my co-workers (some of them) became family. We shared meals, we cried, we laughed, we traveled, we connected. But, I had assumed that this was due to all of us being geographically separated from the traditional family structures.
I was reminded of the expanded definition of family this past weekend. We had lunch with a wonderful family. We've known them for about 4 years; however, we've only spent a day with them here and there throughout the years. Yet somehow, sitting around the table sharing our traditional brunch with them, they are family. Another example...my coworker who I met 5 years ago is now my sister. She truly is.
Family has little to do with geography and everything to do with connection. One of the reasons that I moved back to the states was to be closer to my Webster-defined family, but that didn't strengthen the connection. In fact, I feel less connected, because despite the change in proximity, there has been little change in perceived connection. Letting go of the expectations placed on traditional family is difficult, and I'm continuing to work on that. Europeans embrace (both literally and figuratively) the concept of traditional and non-traditional family. So, here's a hug for all of my "family" out there :)