Modern families

The cast of Modern Family

My Lola and my Papa Edwin -- we had our universe back then. Sadly, both of them are gone now.

My kids and I in a studio shot taken in December. The pressure of raising them is tremendous but the rewards are overwhelming!

Thanks to cable television and the Internet, we have so many options for entertaining ourselves these days. These options also allow us to have a wide range of preferences on how to while away our time.

In the end, our choices reflect our values, our aspirations.

One of my favorite shows on Fox and Second Avenue is Modern Family. For the uninitiated, the show is about three families related to each other.

Jay, an old guy, has two children Claire and Mitchell from his previous marriage.

Jay is now married to Colombian native Gloria (played by the voluptuous and hilarious Sofia Vergara), who is about half his age. Gloria has a son, Manny, from a previous relationship in Colombia but Jay has taken over and treats Manny as his own child.

Claire is a suburban housewife/ soccer mom who has three children with her husband Phil, ever trying to show himself a cool dad. They have two teenage daughters and a younger son.

Mitchell is a gay lawyer who lives with his partner, Cam. They have adopted a girl from Vietnam.

The families are constantly brought together by traditional occasions like Halloween, Christmas and birthdays, crises, and simply by their familial ties. The conflict situations bring to the fore their issues both trivial and profound.

In the end, the problem is resolved and everybody feels warm and fuzzy towards everybody else.

The show has won several Emmy awards but I think its appeal is more basic. It reminds us that families do not have to take any prescribed, conventional form.

As long as people love and care for one another, and deal with the ordinary and extraordinary challenges with respect for the other members -- whatever age they may be -- there is a family.

I grew up in another Modern Family where there was only three of us. My grandmother, my gay uncle, and myself. My mother left me with my Lola when I was seven to start a family of her own. There was a time I felt insecure about not having a mother and a father and brothers and sisters (NOT half brothers and half sisters) with me in the same house.

Looking back, I can only be thankful for the unconventional, unpretentious, humble home that I grew up in. We had our quirks, but there was much love and sacrifice and generosity that went around, even if we did not have much.

And now my family is "modern" yet again. I am officially single, my marriage having been declared null in January, and I am raising four children ages 10 to 18 and worlds apart in inclination and temperament. I like to think we are doing well, notwithstanding my constant worries.

But back to the show. Modern Family is a comedy, first and foremost. It reminds us that being able to laugh out loud, a lot, with your family is just priceless. Never mind what the joke is about.