Sunday, December 25, 2011

Family, today

I come from remarkable people,
or said the same, ordinary people

who have pushed beyond the human-family tradition of awkward
shoving and turning stomachs of things said and unsaid, the jamming of imperfection into the too-tight baby clothes of expectation.
I opened presents yesterday in one warm room with my former step-mom of 18 years,
now without legal status in my life, but still referred to as a 'mom', in spite of the
truth of her being the impetus of my parents split, my single dad, my brother and his 20 year old wife, myself with a never-spoken-of-in-front-of-me difference from the rest,
my half-sister and her newish boyfriend, my former step-sister and her three sons
of three different fathers, her ex-husband wearing a large jersey and looking tired but
friendly and cautious, my former step-brother and his wife and child and three
children of an undisclosed father,

and the house was alive with laughter and Christmas and prayer before the meals
and cigarettes on the front porch and scripture before the opening of humble presents
from grafted-in family that hardly knows me but proudly calls me 'brother' and brags about my life of traveling and Africa.

and now today, my single father sits with my single mother, the woman he left for another woman 25 years ago, and we watch A Christmas Story together, and we are a family. Laughing in full volume. (this comfort was a long time coming, through much thickness in the air, but it came)

And this generosity of community is not all-forgiving, or all-endorsing. It is not so heady as that. It is the survival of the heart. It is generous, and less patient for change than understanding of this condition of frailty and hunger and tiredness of vice.
It feels modern, but I doubt it is, as the human tenderness that overlooks what 'should be' for 'what is',
that loves and welcomes and is kind,
is as old as humanity
and the child born of this day.

No comments: