The family is like a kaleidoscope that will always be shaken by challenge and change but will always cannily survive
Christmas is, for most people, a time for family gatherings -- emigrants returning home, neglected great-aunts contacted and festivity meals which seek to include all, from disaffected teenager to difficult mother-in-law.
It's the time we probably feel most compassion for those who have no family; the abandoned oldie in a care home, the childless orphan with no living relations left, the homeless person who is alone in the world. Charities quite rightly appeal to us for help for children without families in war-torn lands.
It now seems strange for me to look back and remember that the family was so criticised as a form of "oppression", and many prophetic voices were raised foretelling that, by 2000, the kinship family would have disappeared.