I don’t always feel like your average gal. I remember sitting in my backyard, swaddled in fleece blankets one August in the midst of my health insurance woes, and shrieking to my dad, “I AM NOT A NORMAL PERSON!!!”

Besides my declarations, we are an average family. We are typical people with common tendencies, some of which irk and some which charm. Half of us love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” (me), and the other half swears to stuff my anyone’s jaw full of cotton at the first jingle. Typical tribe.

Think about the hunting and gathering days. What if you got annoyed at that cousin who always laughed his way to the best spot around the fire but never helped hunt the wooly mammoth? You couldn’t turn hide and stalk stubbornly away from the family circle into the woods. You would literally get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger. Those cavepeople must have had some impressive social skills.

Humans have survived because we are tribal and, man, am I grateful for mine. This season of true miracles is a love letter to my tribe.

People often remark on how well-loved I am, on the strangers who donated airline miles so I could travel for treatment, on the family who paused their lives to care for their child or their sibling, the coworkers who snuck me extra donuts out of faculty meetings and sliced through hospital bureaucracy to give me another chance at life. But the truth is, I am not unique. These good people love me well, yes. But these good hearts would do the same for anyone in need. They’re not going to let anyone be eaten by the saber-toothed tiger lurking beyond the fire circle. And that is why I love them.

Pardon me for the next 11 seconds while I get way sappy, but I have to say it: Christmas with my people is special not because my people are better than your people, but because we are special to each other. We share the stories, the struggles, the secrets.

The point is, each person makes the tribe what it is. And each person is shaped by the tribe.

Hold your people close, shower your tribe with affection, and keep them in reach of the firelight. Cherish all the facets of the people only you know best. Life will make you climb mountains; love the ones who will throw you the rope.