Belonging

Growing up, there’s always a need to belong, to a family, in school, everywhere. In this fractured USA, we still need to belong. I only wish that it was belonging in the sense of a greater good and camaraderie, not excluding “others” and encouraging silos of like-minded individuals.

We moved from a small village out to the country, where of course up in the hills it snowed earlier than in town so I came to school dressed in hat, boots et al and was laughed at by the other kids. Likewise, choir and orchestra required a white blouse and black skirt to perform. Of course, everyone had a cheap polyester black skirt to wear but me. Poor me, I had to wear a black watch plaid kilt from Scotland so I wasn’t like all the others. I’d kill for one of those kilts now!

There were greater differences for me but I won’t go into them. OK, just one. I was raised Catholic but Dad was Lutheran. Mom checked out the schools and chose public because it offered a better education than the Catholic school. So we had to walk to CCD every week for religious education.

We walked with two kids of like age, my little sister with the girl and me with the younger brother. They made such fun of him and I told him to ignore them, we would tell our own stories and forget about their meanness. Twenty years later I heard from the sister, thanking me for taking her gay brother under my wing and protecting him from the other kids, including herself. They ended up best friends. I certainly didn’t know he was gay at the time, or even know what the word meant, but he was different. So was I,

Parents love telling their kids they’re different. Remember saying “all the kids get to stay out until dark, why do we have to come in early?” only to have them say “You’re not like all the other kids.” How is that an excuse, Doesn’t work for an eight year-old or eighteen.

In this season of giving thanks and sharing, I hope that you enjoy your uniqueness in the knowledge that different people can coexist quite nicely and it makes for a richer experience for all. Enjoy the holidays with much cheer, Belong! Dee

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