It's that time of year again! The shopping malls have decked their halls and holiday fever has begun as early as ever. This year as I pack my bags for our holiday trip to my hometown, I am filled with gratitude for the surrogate family I have found within the liberty movement.
This time of year has definitely become bittersweet for me because I have experienced more poverty during this activism-filled time of my life than any other. As a former corporate employee, I could at one time afford to shower my family and many of my friends with gifts. I took special pride in selecting each gift for each friend and the loss of that ritual has been painful.
In the face of these changes in my holiday season, I have been blessed with the opportunity to discover the nature of true friendship and true family, and for that I will be forever thankful. You see, over time my relationship to certain people in my blood family has become estranged. In part due to my public activism, in part to my public and unwed child rearing, and in part because I am me and they just don't spend time with people like me. Talk about insult to injury, not only could I no longer afford gifts for these people, but my mere presence has become intolerable in the home I grew up in during the holidays.
While this used to cause me grief, the situation actually drove me to surround myself with people who don't need, want, or expect anything but my company for the holidays. Instead of forcing myself to smile in the company of people I know disapprove of my lifestyle, I now have a hard time not laughing until I cry in the company of people who accept me just as I am. For several years now I have been able to spend my holidays with Kriss and Tracy Ward from Kansas City, Missouri. These are some of the most cherished memories I have to date and this holiday season I want to express my deep and sincere gratitude for the gift of friendship and family they have provided me.
Their family has touched my life in ways too significant to articulate. When my own family rejected me, the Wards opened their home to me with wide, loving arms. When I had no money to give gifts, they gave me community and showed me the intangible gift of love. Through their actions, they have shown me how I want to raise my children and have helped me to understand the importance of liberty in relationships, not just politics. These are the people I consider my "chosen family" and they are the people who I am thankful for.
The process of waking up can be incredibly painful, especially when the people you are surrounded by do not wake up at the same pace as you, or never wake up at all. We have all suffered damaged/lost relationships as a result of our passion for freedom. This is a reality our movement will not overcome without the creation of strong and supportive families based on mutual values.
This holiday season, I encourage you to reflect thoughtfully on what family means to you. Are you surrounded by people who support and love you? Can you provide support and love to a fellow activist who has become estranged from their family due to their public activism? As the defenders of freedom for the future, I believe this is our duty to provide this for each other.
Thank you again, Kriss, Tracy, Claire and Madison, for providing me with family when I felt I had none. Without your support and friendship, I would not be the woman I have become today. Your family is an inspiration to the liberty movement and I love you all very much! Happy holidays!