Christmas is almost here! I hope you are all having a wonderful time. I’m still getting over this sick business that decided to set up shop last week. My Christmas celebrations will likely be really laid back. I hope that you all have the most wonderful celebrations that you could have, regardless of the holidays you are celebrating. Only a couple more posts for this year that I am excited to bring to you.
We are close to a tribe of people who we are supposed to love and cherish, daughters and fathers, sisters, cousins. It has been on my mind a lot lately, the idea of a family. That my mother and father are my whole world and that my grandparents were the world to them. The bonds that we find with our family seem so strong, but can be so quickly severed. Those cuts may come quickly, but they are certainly not painless. I still have some people in my life who I will sucker punch should I see them again.
Growing up, I think we have this great picture of our extended family that is painted for us. Fearful to reveal the horrors of the world to the children, the adults painted a picture of peace and happiness with us. Some friends of mine didn’t even get that luxury. Their life at home was strife and worry and sadness always. I want you to know that you are not alone in it. Every family has secrets.
At the beginning of December, I went on a trip with my mother and grandmother to visit some family across the country. As we went and I met these people for the second time feeling as if it was the first, I heard all kinds of stories. My mom took me around in Kansas and showed me where my great grandma once lived and where I played as a park when I was a young pup. I watched as one of my relatives lit a cigarette right next to his oxygen tank and panicked briefly, afraid it was going to blow up. After the fourth or fifth cigarette, I was less worried about dying.
I heard stories from my family that I thought I would never hear. Things that would be hard to believe even if I had written about them. I came to smile and laugh with them when my mind was in the conversation and sit back in awe of their lives when it wasn’t. This trip was the echoing voice in the back of my head, whispering that the world around me is not what I believe it to be. That I have a lot of work to do. Hearing stories of bitterness and greed and tall tales galore from these people I have only met once before rang a bell in my head.
All families have their secrets. All families have things that never see the light of day.
Mine is not excluded from that, but as my mom came to pick me up from the airport in SLC and take me to a convenience store for some snacks, I fell into a pensive mood. We talked about the trip and our plans to leave the following morning and I recollected all of the things I had experienced from my family on the trip. My mind spun back to my father’s side of the family, who have grown tense as the years passed from my grandparents deaths. I remembered the conversations, the faces, the things said to my father. I remember the stories that my grandparents told and I remembered all of the things that I don’t think I was supposed to know when I did. All the stories I was told perhaps a bit too young.
Then I thought of my friends. Some of whom I had been growing tiresome of. My mind was getting tired of the antics and this or that about them, and as I slapped a frosted red velvet cookie on the counter and asked the cashier for a pack of smokes, I thought of one friend in particular, watching his family go through what my family had gone through a few years back.
The only difference is that his family was much closer than mine was. So the struggle hurts him and I can see it. It brought the conversation into my head as we drove home and I grabbed my things from the car and entered the hotel room. Family is difficult, it is confusing, but there is always hope.
I say something often, because I enjoy the way it sounds. An old saying that has been mutilated to mean something different.
“The blood of bond is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Meaning, the family that you choose is more important than the family you are born into. You can choose the family you were born into as well, and I have, but I took a deep breath as I remembered I chose every single person in my life today.
I chose them all, despite their demons and their monsters, because no matter who you are, or where you come from…
Every family can be haunted, even if only by a few spirits.
Today is the LAST DAY to preorder MEan Shadows and get the super rad bookmarks that come with the book! It releases TOMORROW MORNING + I hope that all of you have your copies snagged. You can find them here.
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