The Family Stone

We had our first—light—snow here in Toronto last week, and I was reminded: yes, winter has come, and Christmas is just around the corner. That evening, as I was leaving the tattoo parlour and knowing that I wasn’t going to see George (my artist) or anyone at Chronic Ink till the new year, I wished everyone ‘Happy Holidays’. Surely, this wasn’t the ideal crowd for Christmas cheer, and the girl at the counter giggled. I, too, was rather surprised by the words coming out of my mouth—words I’d never have spoken a year or two ago without them having spilled forth from lips loosened by alcohol. (Oh, I’ll upload a picture of the leg-sleeve when it’s all healed.)

I used to be the Scroogiest of holiday curmudgeons. As a child, I’d sit at the dinner table, scowling, wondering when all this family crap was over so that I could get to the presents. Later on in life, I was basically the same, though with less of an expectation of gifts and more feelings of an even greater taxation on my time. I guess I’ve always been aware of the march of time, and so anything that didn’t further my worldly aspirations felt like a waste. Selfish, I know, but we’re often selfish and shortsighted when we’re younger.

Then mom got sick, and my self-centred-circus came to a screeching halt. Someone else’s ‘clock’ was front and centre, someone else’s life was the most important focus for me—for everyone. I quickly learned that it’s not so much about my time, as much as it is about our time. Our time together with the souls we’ve connected with in this life: friends, family, animal companions—even you readers taking the time to read my work or my blog. Truly, there are few aspects more important to being human than community, family or love. The absence of these elements leaves us with feelings of depression, abjection or rejection. A lot of isolation from family or community can be self imposed. I know, as I’ve spent about 2/3 of my life avoiding people.

Of course not every family is perfect or even good. Being grouped with quite literally a random assortment of strangers through the genetic lottery is bound to have more inharmonious pairings than functioning ones. But we roll with the punches. We take what we can get. My relationship with my sister, for example, has always been this tightrope act of loving and judgment (of each other). My relationship with my father, has always been one of antagonistic love. I don’t wish that I had a more ‘loving’ or wholesome family. Everyone in my family has their own flavour and personality, and those differences have shaped me into who I am. I’ve come to a place where I know these folks are what I’ve got and I’d better be happy (or miserable) about it. I choose the former, and my in-laws make up for any exuberance that I feel I might be lacking.

At the end of the day, and after many years of struggle, contemplation and acceptance, though, I don’t feel that I’m lacking anything. My family are mine, and queer as we may be, I wouldn’t and don’t want for another.

All my love,