A Copywriter’s Blog
Do you like the ones you love? Ben Levy 21, February

This is one of those posts that someone is going to read, think it refers to them, and the resulting fall-out will last slightly longer than Chernobyl. In other words, it’s gonna be a good one. (No, various family members who think this is about you, it’s not about you. So you can stop worrying.)

It’s about family in general. Family is a weird thing. You get to pick one person-ONE PERSON- to be in your family. Your husband/wife. And in some cultures, you don’t even get to choose that. Some witchdoctor/matchmaker/leftover tea leaves do it for you. But generally in this enlightened age, you get to choose one person.

And that’s it.

Everything else? No choice. Crazy Uncles. Lecherous Grandpas. Insane Cousins. Painfully attractive step-sisters. You just get them. Even your own kids aren’t chosen. More “made”. Sure, you can influence them. But if after 20 years they don’t turn out how you wanted, you don’t get to go “You know what? This isn’t working out. I’m just gonna find some new kids that like more of the same stuff I do.”

The worst used-car deal ever struck probably had better terms than this. Even Satan would feel guilty about offering such a contract. But here it is. And we have to love them. They’re family.

Love them. Not like them. What an odd thing. The people we didn’t chose. Might be completely different from. And would possibly jump out a window to avoid.

I think my family is pretty normal. Oh, certain parts routinely insult other parts in ways that never get resolved, and never will be. But no one’s ever been exiled. No one’s ever taken a swing at someone else. Except for that one serious fight my brother and I had. But shit, we’re brothers. It’s amazing that only happened once. Which is my point, really.

How does this work? Why does it work? Who says it does?

I have some members of my family that I genuinely like. Not just love. Like. These are people that for whatever reason I really click with. I might have become friends with them if I’d met them on the street, or taken a few classes with them in school, or something. Granted, since 95% of my family are doctors, I would never, ever have met them in school (I majored in art), found them on the street (they sleep when they don’t work) or had them as a coworker (see point one). You get the idea. I am routinely, totally amazed that I have family members that I genuinely like. I think it’s a very rare thing.

And understand- these other family members? They’re ok. They are, truly. There’s really nothing wrong with them. It’s just that, if I ran into them in class/street/school, I would have spoken to them once or twice and I’m sure we both would have agreed that we just didn’t have much in common. End of story. No harm done.

The point to this long-winded free-association familial babble is this: Family is a loose collection of varying levels of relations. There is an excellent chance they don’t like you and perhaps you don’t like them. And so if they screw up, or do something that none of your “friends” would do, the “wrong” is ten times greater. When in fact, you should give them a proportionate amount of leeway. We don’t choose our family. Each of us is attempting to figure out how best to relate to these weird people we would never talk to under ordinary conditions, but who we nevertheless love. And that’s why every year we have to set the Thanksgiving turkey back on the table where it won’t be thrown at anybody’s head, and remind ourselves that we love one another.

Because even if we don’t like each other, we don’t have any other choice.

Plus, that would be a waste of really good turkey.

Comments Off