The Definition of ‘Family’

Sometimes I wish my family was the perfect family. You know the one: well enough off so as to not be constantly worrying about money, siblings that never argue, a good size house, with all the trimmings included.

I think at Christmas, the flaws in my own family become more apparent, but you know what? I wouldn’t change them for the world.

My family is none of the things above: my parents chose to send me and my three siblings to a private school, each month costing as much as a monthly mortgage payment; my brother and I used to fight heaps (even though now we get along most of the time), and my sisters are the cause of more than their fair share of disputes; and our house is a two bedroom cottage — needless to say, it gets kind of squashy. And we seem to get all the bad luck.

But — and I say this with all honesty — I would not change my family for another. Sure, we have our imperfections, but don’t we all? So, we didn’t get iPads from Santa, and Mum works on Christmas Day, but it’s okay: we have each other. I don’t want to get too sentimental and sloppy, but I truly think that it’s important during this “festive” season that we remember who we’ve got in our lives, and the part we play in others’.

I say all this today because I just spent the day with Dad’s side of the family. I do not get along with them at all. In fact, my nana hates my mother’s guts. But, I am so glad to live in the family that I do live in, that I put up with their crap (often said on the sly so the ‘victim’ is the only one to hear it) to appease my father, who is only just now beginning to see their vicious malice — but only just. Anyway, it makes me realise that I live in a family that loves me for who I am (most of the time), and have parents who have given up a lot to put us through private education. For that, I am extremely grateful.

For those of you who want to brag about your gifts (the specific ones I’m referring to are most probably not reading this blog), I actually don’t care that I didn’t get a ridiculous amount spent on me for Christmas, because I know my family loves and cares for me, and I don’t need to presents showered down on me to know that. And you know, I’m grateful I don’t need that kind of confirmation.

Sorry for the rant! I don’t even know if I make any sense…Anyway, let me know about your thoughts on family and this particularly stressful time of year. Any good stories to share?

Chilling with the fam-bam.

My siblings and I (left), with my brother’s girlfriend.

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Comic Books – How Do They Compare?

Hello, my dear readers!

So, comic books…truth be told, I’ve never been a fan. Sure, I’ve read the little cartoons in the newspapers — and they’re cute — but that’s about as far as I’ve gone. Until now.

I recently finished the first volume of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, “Preludes and Nocturnes.” And it was surprisingly good. I originally picked it up on a whim because I like Neil Gaiman’s work and was looking for something quick to read. I devoured it, needless to say.

My first foray into the world of graphic storytelling: it was totally brilliant. I’d always thought that comics, like manga, were for over-obsessed nerds (I’ve changed my mind about both). I’d never even been interested in their film reincarnations. My brother loved all of those recent ‘Avenger’ films, but I could never bring myself to really watch them, and those that I did (Captain America and the first Iron Man), I didn’t enjoy as much as, say, Pitch Perfect. I’ve always felt that I was coming into a character development halfway, and I hate that. I have to read a series of books from the beginning, or watch a television series from the first episode, otherwise, don’t count me in.

But all that aside, although there is one episode that features a couple of ex-members from the Justice League of America (some Martian dude and a sci-fi guy who didn’t know his real name, so used his nickname of Scott Free — oh, and Batman makes a cameo, too), I found this surprisingly easy to immerse myself into. Gaiman is using an original character, and (I believe) quenched his thirst for including known super-heroes in that one part, so I just dealt with that minor aggravation and got over it. Pretty damn quickly.

Cover art for the first volume of Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' series,

Some fantastic cover art by Dave McKean, longtime collaborator with Neil Gaiman.

In brief, the leader of a cult attempts to summon Death, but instead catches her younger brother, Dream. Morpheus, as he is also known, is trapped for seventy years, biding his time and waiting for his captors to die. In the meantime, three of Dream’s tools were seized, and have passed through many hands, going off in many directions. Following Dream’s escape, what ensues is a quest to obtain his beloved instruments and thus regain his power. I don’t do it very much justice, but I’ve just condensed several episodes worth of content into a paragraph. Don’t judge me too harshly.

In the Afterword, Gaiman says he was only just finding his ‘voice’ in the last of the eight episodes collected here. The fact that the rest gets better was an added bonus for me. I’m now itching to get onto the second volume.

HOWEVER: at times, I found it difficult to follow the order that things were meant to be read on the page. Maybe it’s just something I’ll get used to?

I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment!