Not that PBR

I’m sorry but what? My family? Two dogs. A couple of cousins in the wilds of Montana (one of whom flirts with me, very creepy) and a couple others here and there. Family is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some families are just fucked from the getgo. Some fall apart over time. This joyful holiday get-together-with-family BS is just an added pressure this time of year, and I’m at the point in life where I get to choose my “family.”

Last Christmas I spent with some of my chosen family in Colorado Springs. Providence brought me a sister not long after my brother Kirk died from alcoholism. “Here,” Providence said, “from Kirk.” We thank Kirk from time to time because without him dying we wouldn’t know each other. To learn about that, you can read my post on the Kindness of the Gods.

The Christmas Eve get-together of family and friends was hilarious and grim as only family Christmases can be. The “brother-in-law,” we’ll call him “M,” got drunk and spent the evening sitting on the “going to the basement” stairs of the split-level house my chosen sister (CS) had borrowed from her second brother (who was not there) because it had a dishwasher and more space than her house. Probably 30 people attended. I knew most of them, but didn’t get to talk to everyone. I was in a lot of pain from my hip and couldn’t stand for more than five or ten minutes, so I had to spend the party sitting on a comfy chair (“No, no, not the comfy chair!”)

My “son-like-thing” was depressed and mildly inebriated, in a bad relationship and lost in life. My nephew, one of the sweetest people on the planet, a developmentally disabled guy in his 30s, sat with me on a small sofa with his head on my shoulder staring at my tits. My CS’s oldest brother and his piece-of-work wife interviewed me about my education and credentials to see if I merited their attention and conversation. I passed, but that didn’t mean we had anything to say to each other.

After about a couple of hours, my CS noticed that “M” was MIA.

“He’s on the basement stairs. He’s been there all night.”
“Is he OK?”
“He doesn’t look so good.”
“I’ll take him home,” I said. I’d signed up for that job early in the day.

Some friends helped “M” to my car. No one knew if he (blind and arthritic and drunk) could walk on his own, and the thought of him falling was not to be borne. “I’ll meet you there,” said one of my CS’s friends who was there with her son and his new girlfriend. I was pretty stove up at the time, needing hip surgery and unable to easily climb stairs, so I wouldn’t have been able to help him into the house. We’d have sat in the car godnose how long.


“Great,” I said, relieved. On the way “home,” I dropped off my CS’s very pitiful ( 😦 )alcoholic musician friend, then took “M” home. The friends drove up, ready to help, but “M” was fine. He went in by himself, headed directly to the basement, his hangout, with the mini-fridge and the 20 pack of *PBRs.

“You going back to the party?” asked the friend.

I shook my head, thinking how amazing life is that even with everyone in my own dysfunctional blood family dead, I could still have a Christmas Eve like that. ❤


*PBR stands both for Professional Bull Riders and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

12 thoughts on “Not that PBR

  1. For many of us, either we don’t have any living family or our relationship with them is not there. I have my son, occasionally, a granddaughter when she chooses to visit and it’s not because she wants money. It has been years since “family” made the holidays and it’s just going to get worse.

    But luckily, there ARE friends.

  2. I wonder if my uncles and aunts still celebrate Christmas wherever they are now, probably floating on a cloud, with grandad in the middle.

    • I hope mine are all in some permanent Grandma’s living room getting along with each other and not arguing about what they’d do if they had a million dollars. 🙂

  3. I read “The Kindness of the Gods” and could totally relate to parts, if not all, of what you wrote. (It always feels weird to write on old posts, so I’m commenting here and everyone else can just hang if it doesn’t make sense.)

    My husband’s funeral was one of the most surreal days. I suspect now I just sort of floated through it on a cloud of sorrow and disbelief that he was gone. But I remember the kindness. The beautiful words spoken by his best friend and the open mic performances by his fellow rock artists in the gathering afterward. He would have loved it. Even as it was the worst day of my life, I have strangely beautiful memories of that moment. Death has that impact—of exploding in your life and creating a giant crater that is slowly filled in over time by loving memories brought by kind, caring people.

    • ❤ Yes. ❤ I felt that Kirk just couldn't bear his life any more, looked down on me from "Heaven" and saw all his old friends and thought, "There. Now they've met. My sister shouldn't be alone."

  4. And I just got handed another “assigned” family. Picking a family isn’t something I’ve had much chance to do – except for my wife.

    • I wonder if we really pick our family — I mean my current “family” just happened to be where I was at a particular moment in time and there was a pre-existing connection. My picked family in Monte Vista turned out to be two women, one who lives next door and the other across the street. Luckily, we really like each other and my arrival changed the nature of their friendship, an interesting bit of chemistry, but real. The three of us really NEED each other and we know it. We’re not all that open about it, but we understand the reality. This is a hard place to live in many ways. I really love them.

      I think the difference is friends are differently reliable than assigned family members and it’s a little bit (though not much) simpler to walk away if that time comes. The commitment is different, too. It’s choice not obligation.

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