Writers often find that characters begin to take on a life of their own. The actions that they make, the process of building wants and desires means that quickly, what a character would or would not do, becomes something plausible, almost tangible. I think family is like that too. We start life just forming our own identities and ideas based on the people around us, we are taught different things about what family means and who they are. Eventually, we take on a life of our own and decide who we want to call family.
My biological family is small. When I think of the roots of my family, it’s me, my mum and my brother. Of course, I have a grandmother who’s still alive, and an aunt and an uncle, each with families, but I tend to almost forget about them because through various incidents we’ve grown apart. Beyond that, I barely remember that I have a father. I did or do, or else I wouldn’t exist, but he’s not a part of my life anymore, so when new people ask me about him I don’t feel any strong emotions when I say, “I don’t know. We don’t talk.”
When I think about family, I don’t just think of them. They were the people who told me what family meant, told me what it ought to require and those who tried to teach me that family has a power over you that you can’t break. It sounded like a cage of obligation.
I know that’s not what it is. This Christmas was different from every last one that came before because, for the first time, I was with my family. People who I wanted to be around, completely. Christmas is a time to just enjoy being around people I love. It’s not forced, or contrived. Even with the “commercialism” of Christmas, that makes too many people bah-humbug, it doesn’t bother me. Christmas is what YOU make of it!
The winter holiday season has become something new, it’s not what it was originally intended it for, but it’s an atmosphere that cannot be denied. Family is the same. Family is something you feel, it’s who you are connected to and that isn’t just the people you are told to love by convention. A huge part of my family are people who would be described as friends in the eyes of the law. People who I’ve known for a single year and twenty years are all family to me. They are the people I trust I can be myself with.
With the New Year just around the corner, I’m amazed at the world that is before me, a life that I’m shaping with people I choose to share it with. No excuses and no explanations. We are family.
In truth, this Christmas I became overexcited about giving certain people, certain gifts, because no matter the cost, how big or how small, I wanted to give them something that I thought would make them happy. For some it’s a new piece of jewellery that will make them feel beautiful even when they don’t see it, for another it’s a few drinks because it means we get one-on-one time to check in with each other, and for others, it’s just being with them for a couple of days and laughing together.
Christmas is simple, just like any other holiday, whether it’s religious or not, whether you call it Christmas or not. It doesn’t have to be a show or an expense. It’s for each of us to find people we want to be with, and just be with them as we look to the new year and what it will bring. That’s all.