On this Friday past, my brother Jonathan and my Dad left, concluding over a week of familial visits. It began with Michael on August 26th at midnight. He was here until Sunday the 30th, but maybe half an hour before he left, Jonathan, Cindy, and their daughter arrived. Dad came in on a delayed flight that night well past everyone else being asleep. On Monday, Cindy and our niece left after supper to see Cindy’s parents. Jonathan and Dad stayed until Friday, taking a course at Wycliffe College about the Holy Spirit.
It was good. Really good. I enjoyed the time spent with all of them. Michael and I wandered the downtown, getting Slurpees and stopping in at used bookstores and the Merrill Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy as well as having a trip to the ROM. We also talked comic books (I don’t read any of them because there are too many to follow and I’m cheap and I’d only read them once) and science fiction and indulged our nerdiness. And played Scrabble.
Jonathan, Dad, and I also indulged in Slurpees. OK, I had a Slurpee, Jonathan a Diet Dr. Pepper, and Dad a Coke. But, still. We shopped at Crux Books at Wycliffe (I made a list, they actually bought stuff). We watched Frasier. We went went out to Boston Pizza to celebration the completion of my Greek Sight Exam. And played Uno.
I like my family. I like that we’re interested in many of the same things — certain TV shows and movies, science fiction, theology, churchliness, certain board games, and all that stuff. I like that we get along. I like that we Hoskin men are all just little boys. I collect Playmobil Vikings, Jonathan plays video and computer games and snacks prodigiously, Michael reads comic books, Dad eats a lot of candy. I enjoy spending time with these people.
Even if Michael doesn’t like fruit, even if I’ll never under Jonathan’s capacity for snacking.
I think family is important. And I mean here the immediate family. I know that the extended group of blood-relations is important, as are those people to whom there is no biological connection yet the bond still runs powerfully deep. I honour those connections and those people.
But there is something different about the bond with the immediate family. I know not everyone is blessed with siblings they actually like and parents who don’t drive them completely insane. But I also know lots of people who get along with their families and enjoy time with them.
The bond we share with our siblings and parents is more than the biological and genetic that brings us together in the first place. Bonds are drawn from the collective unconscious only that family shares due to the many shared events of the past. The interplay of these personalities over so many years creates an organism that is bigger than its mere constituent parts. We are not 6 or 8 or 9 discrete individuals. We are a single whole, fundamentally interconnected.
And our shared memories also create multiple layers of in-jokes and subtle references.
Furthermore, you do not choose your family. It simply is. These are the people with whom you are lumped, and you have no control over it (except for parents who adopt, but the adopted still tend to have no control over the decision). Thus, when things go well, there is something magical about gathering with these people whom you never chose, who never chose you, yet with whom you have an uncuttable link and an intrinsic draw towards. It is great glorious fun we things go well.
So I am glad for my candy-eating, film-watching, snacking, ecclesiastical family. They’re a good time. I hope you enjoy yours as well.