Why is there no holiday celebrating in-laws? What a unique gift, to gain new parents and siblings halfway through life. I always loved being a sister. Having a blood sister is a big part of what made me who I am.

Now I have one by my brother’s marriage, and another from my husband’s side. We look up to each other, challenge each other, and keep each other sane. I don’t say it enough, but for the record: I’m deeply grateful to have them in my life.

So here’s to you, my sisters-in-law. (I never even like to use that phrase. You are my sisters, full stop. Or perhaps sisters-in-love, because love is the bond that means much more to me than the legal status of our relations.)

You are the women who made me an aunt, something I always wanted to be, the women who gave my daughter the priceless gift of cousins. You help me appreciate and understand the family I grew up with from fresh points of view.

You trust me to counsel you on your relationships even though you could dismiss me as biased. I see this as a huge sign of respect to my discernment. I know I can count on you to be there for me when I need the same support.

You empower me to make time for the passions that make me who I am, despite the pressure to put everyone else first. I see you perform music, teach yourself herbalism, maintain close friendships, and pursue your careers. You model a self-esteem that, while a work-in-progress for each of us, reminds me that I discover new levels of strength, beauty, humility, endurance, and ecstasy through motherhood.

You never make me feel bad for flaking on birthday and Christmas presents, because you know that my heart is in the right place even if my head isn’t always screwed on right. You never judge me, as much as I fear you will, when holiday chaos prompts my social anxiety to rear its ugly head.

Every year I promise that, this time, I will hold it together, and every year I’m embarrassed as I struggle so much that I can’t even look you in the eye. But you look into mine, with love. And I can’t tell you how much that means.

You soothe my mind when I wonder who I will call when someday I no longer have my own mother to turn to. Above all, you are proof that there are many ways to raise children, many ways to lead a family, and that the most important thing must always be doing what’s right for ourselves.

You give hope to my aching heart that this world is not running out of good people, because I see you raising thoughtful, caring children, who will grow up to live with their hearts open and their heads high, as champions of the Earth.

No matter what ups and downs life may bring, we are family. So thank you, sisters, for bringing me closer to my brothers, and for holding us all in a web of love that “law” can’t pretend to describe.