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Features

Winter Break Necessitates Much Needed Family Time

by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief

In the days and weeks leading up to Winter Break, my first trip home all semester, I’ve been thinking a lot about family.

On Friday, my mom sent me and my siblings an e-mail telling us that Benjamin, my older brother, had been arrested at a protest in Michigan, where he lives. He stormed the state capitol alongside fellow union organizers in protest of the state’s passage of two anti-union bills. Pushing through police officers, he was maced, arrested and spent a few hours in jail.

On Sunday, I received another e-mail, this time from my sister. She and her longtime partner were splitting up. They had realized they wanted different things in a relationship, she wrote.

It’s funny how a few simple sentences in an e-mail can render such strong emotions. I felt incredibly proud of my brother and quickly read up on the Right to Work bills in Michigan to get some context. After reading Erin’s e-mail, I was sad to think that my sister, the oldest of us five kids, was hurting so far away from me.

In a different state, in a different time zone hundreds of miles away, all I can do now is send a supportive e-mail or have a static phone conversation to make up for the fact that I’m far away. And for the most part, we pull it off. We all live in different places—Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and North Carolina—but we all call Kansas City home.

I only see my brothers and sisters a couple times a year, but, having been raised together, they probably know me better than anyone else. I feel comfort in having such a big, strong family. My brothers and sisters are what keep me going. They inspire me and excite me and make me laugh.

Following the example set by our parents, we’re a weird, nontraditional bunch. We’re gay, we’re divorced, we’re single parents, we’re underemployed, we’re struggling to make ends meet and we’re still sorting out our lives. This is the nature of us. And in my 21 years, I have never come across any family that was stronger.

This summer I found myself restless and bored at my parents’ house, and I resolved to come home less. There are funner things I could be doing with my breaks, I thought. And for the most part, that’s been the case. But Thanksgiving marked the first holiday I didn’t spend at home with my family, which made me a little melancholy. This winter break, my first trip home since August, feels long overdue.

It’s incredible how much our families and our homes shape us, even as we try and separate ourselves from them, move away, go to college, grow up and start our own lives, our own communities, elsewhere. I’ve moved to a different part of the country, I don’t call my family members enough, and sometimes I forget birthdays, but it’s still nice to know that I have a base and a support system. While home may be a very different place to all of us, it’s still nice to have something, somewhere, someone to come back to.

No matter how crowded my house may get over Christmas, no matter how much I may lose patience when my dad asks me for computer help, no matter how many times my brother makes a vulgar joke at the dinner table, I’m glad I’m related to this eclectic group. The Wilkins will always be my family, and Kansas City will always be my home.

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