October is a weird month; it’s the start of something great but is found at the end of the year. October is the start of many family traditions and, of course, fall. I was blessed to be born into a big family and, although we’re crazy and loud Portuguese lunatics, I wouldn’t want it any other way. My family has it all—a loud grandmother, crazy aunts, the sophisticated uncle, unique cousins and most of all, loving parents. Sometimes, we go to war with each other but at the end of the day we would all go to war for each other. There’s nothing stronger than the bond my family shares.

Every year since before I was born my family has gone pumpkin picking in October. When I was younger, before we all got lives outside of family, this was followed by a haunted house. Even though my cousin (who is also my godmother) is much older than me, she really enjoyed throwing me in front of all the masked people and chainsaws. Which I suppose explains my sick and twisted enjoyment for haunted houses and being afraid.

Coming to college last year was weird. It was something I never thought I would do… Or be able to do, at least. I was so excited to begin school. When I got there, though, I realized how much harder it was to see my family. Especially when it comes to family traditions, including the ones I thought were stupid and never wanted to go to when I was home (pumpkin picking). College changed that experience for me. Pumpkin picking is the first reason to come home and see my family. However, coming home for a weekend isn’t so easy when I’m three hours away, and especially now that I work two jobs.

Each time I come home I remember how fortunate I am to belong to a family like mine. We may not talk on a day to day basis, but our love is still strong and unlike anything else. As I grow up, I find there are some people in my life who are my family even though they aren’t related to me. For example, my high school friends, otherwise known as my “shop family” (and though I put that in quotes, that’s exactly what they are). They are my family, too. And just like those I’m related to, I go to war with them but will always go to war for them.

I have family who lives in a different state, my brother and his wife and kids, that I don’t talk to as much. That doesn’t take away the love I have for them. My mom’s side of the family I hardly ever see or talk to, but they’re still family and I love them just as much. Family isn’t just about blood, it’s deeper than that. No amount of distance or time apart could ever take away the love I have for my family.