Tom LaRock (blog | twitter) is running his monthly #mememonday challenge today. I didn’t think I’d have time for a blog post, since I’m returning from a week of vacation, but the topic is close to my heart and I wanted to put together something.

What does #sqlfamily mean to you?

family: noun, a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.

Back Row (L-R): Rob Farley, Denise McInerney, Grant Fritchey, Ted Krueger

Third Row: Jes Borland, Kendra Little, Wendy Pastrick, Santa (aka Uncle Buck Woody), Meredith Ryan-Smith, Christina Leo, Erin Stellato

Second Row: Sarah Strate, Jason Strate

First Row: Yanni Robel, Jorge Segarra, Jessica Segarra, Karen Lopez

Family means different things to everyone. Everyone has parents and grandparents, but some of us may be closer to friends we’ve made over the years. Every family is at least a little dysfunctional, with the cousin that doesn’t come around very often and the uncle that falls asleep on the couch at every event. And for many people, myself included, the people we’ve met at SQL events throughout the year now make up our #sqlfamily.

What is my #sqlfamily, to me?

When I was a kid, I was a klutz. (Not much has changed.) One day, I was riding my bike around our driveway. I tried to ride between the garage and the parked camper. I tipped over and my handlebar smashed one of the brake lights. I didn’t tell my parents because I thought I would get in trouble. The next day, I did. Lesson learned: when you do something wrong, don’t hide it. That will only make the problem worse.

So, the first time I ran a DELETE statement without a WHERE clause, did I hide it? Oh no, I ran crying to a #sqlfamily member, asking what I could do to fix the problem. And that time backups didn’t run? I admitted it, and asked for help on how to get them running again.

I remember taking family vacations as a kid. We’d all pile in the van and go camping for a week. We’d explore new cities, eat new foods, stay up late playing card games, and get home exhausted.

This tradition continues in grand fashion with events like PASS Summit and SQL Saturdays. After all, didn’t Big Brother Rob and I talk for three hours straight on the car ride from Seattle to Portland, much to Dad John and Mom Yanni’s amusement? In 2011 alone, I’ve visited #sqlfamily in four states, where we’ve done everything from run half marathons to sing karaoke.

I remember going to my grandma’s every month for dinner – usually burgers in the summer and chili in the winter, with ice cream for dessert. The adults would play pinochle and the kids would run around outside, playing hide and seek or sledding.

Today, I go to user group meetings monthly for #sqlfamily dinner. It’s pizza and beer now, the people are great, and I don’t have to sit at the kid’s table any more.

When babies are born, we celebrate. (We’re all waiting expectantly, Michelle!) When family is sick, we pull together and ask what we can do. When there is a reason to celebrate, congratulations are offered and the event is celebrated (often with Jager).

When I need someone to answer a question, yell at, talk me off a ledge, cry to, or just be there for me, I know that any time, night or day, a #sqlfamily member will be there for me.