Kristen: I'm going to lose a lot of my "fans" on this next one. It shouldn't come as any surprise to any LOYAL reader, but I'm actually not that keen on families. When people say they don't want to move away because they want to be close to their families, I'm amazed. It's a part of humans that I don't get. It's exotic. It's foreign. I once got bitched-out and flamed because I suggested to a person that she leave her visiting sister and nephew at 8pm and come to a party (it was a special party). I've come to the conclusion that I missed out of the whole family thing. Sure, I love my family, but I'm not sure if I like them. And even worse, I suspect that I pity them. I'm a reaction to all the mistakes they made. I can definitely see their use there, but I'm talking about the annoying obligation and guilt of family. I didn't ask to be born, and I greatly resented being treated like an imposition at times. To me, family is what you get stuck with. Sure, it's interesting to see that I have grandmother sutherland's hips, etc. but mostly family is some awful slice of people who have lived just like you but are at different stages in their life. That concept is so frightening to me: will I be like my mother when I get older? It would hurt my mother greatly to hear this, but I'm not that close to anyone in my family, and I DREAD family gatherings. My mother gets the brunt of it because I feel that mothers are the leaders of a family and set the tone. Sure it's nice to have family. I suppose it's necessary to have a structure in place by which society can model itself. But, my sister said a chilling thing on having children that epitomizes unhealthy family to me. She suggested that the primary reason to have children is to have friends for when you get older. I believe my mother would be much better off without looking to her children for friends. It seems that at this stage in her life, children and grandchildren are the main things she has. I often think I'm being a good daughter when I give her good stories about me to tell her nominal friends. I wonder if she would have been more fulfilled if she had maintained and built friendships and lived a free life, but I suspect not as it would have been a radical departure from the norm. Family is odd to me. I'm obliged to call and check in every week weather I have anything to say or not (although this becomes two weeks or longer thanks to e-mail). I'm obliged to do both Thanksgiving and Christmas and a summer visit. If only families had a laissez-faire attitude where you called them when you needed them or wanted them. I think it would be much healthier as that's the biggest benefit to families is that you're stuck with them. Now you know how the freak feels about her family…. But then there's the overwhelming guilt for feeling this way. I wish I wanted to heave them to my bosom.