Being in a family living in four different provinces, thousands of kilometres away, it takes a bit more than Christmas to haul us all in to one spot. That’s why the ancient Greeks invented weddings (totally made up). And for those of you who have sizeable families, or very loud families, or maybe a combination of both, you’ll know that the very foundations of your otherwise nice, regular life will be shaken to the core for two weeks.
I’m in week two.
But, as we all know, family is community. Everyone says it: “family first.” And most of us are compelled to spend time with our family, our loved ones, the people who’ve known us the longest – all the awful little things you did when you were a kid, the mistakes made, the terrible people dated…everything. Some of us can’t stand our families and end up resenting the time they’ve taken away from watching Hoarders. Me? I’ve developed a taste for them, much like someone who’s developed a taste for Aqua Velva.
Speak of Aqua Velva, it was my grandfather who stayed with me. In my bachelor. My small, newly moved-into bachelor apartment. Let me tell you something about old people: they don’t sleep like the rest of us. No, they wake-up at four in the morning and insist on reading, loudly, the newspaper, shuffling around with pill bottles, and deafening sweater vests. They don’t eat like the rest of us either. My grandfather has a penchant for roast beef and white bread. Why? Because he’s been eating it for 83 years, that’s why. Think Pavlov and think of a whole lotta ringing for decades. Would you stop salivating?
But I was the lucky one. As cliché as it is, the ancients (as I like to call my grandfather…to his face) have a lot to offer. He’s a natural comic, blessed with Seinfeldian timing and devastating wit. He’s arguably the funniest person in our family, maybe all of Norfolk County. And he’s got his material down. A line for everything, a dry serving of levity when needed. Hilarious.
It wasn’t the joking around or the endless stories of bootlegging ships in Lake Erie, or the new found fame of selling paintings to Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (true story) that made me happy I had a one week dose of Puppa…no, it was the perspective that only comes with being around to see Haley’s Comet twice (not true). As a young man, having Puppa around forced me to consider the bigger moments that are coming up in my life, the ones I haven’t thought of yet.
And it made me realize that my community is full of people in their 20s and 30s. Where are the ancients in my day-to-day? How do I befriend them? Is volunteering at the Manor the only way? Do I secretly resent the Blue Hairs when they take my seat on the #99? Is my life’s education incomplete without the delivery of knowledge from someone who’s been around forever?
Roast beef and white bread for thought.