The Greatest Present of All: A New Framework of Family



by Paul L. Grace-Neal

Oxon, Hill, MD–The first two people I called  on Christmas morn were my best friend/Spiritual Mentor and a new close friend.  I did not call any family.  I’m not sure exactly what was going through my mind but I did know that the two friends I called were closer that many family members.

I have confided my darkest hours,  revealed my most hateful ways, and shared likes and dislikes.  They have seen me at my best and worst yet they love me unconditionally.   Don’t get me wrong.  They check me when I’m out of place but through all my HORRORS of HELL, and JOYS along my JOURNEY, they LOVE ME!

They were right there to comfort and hold me when my own family would not.  Metaphorically speaking, they have not let go.  For me, my closest friends encourage me to stay on the path when I’m on the right track and redirect me when I go astray as we walk together towards health, healing and wholeness.  That my friends, is a new framework of family.  To put it another way, it is family redefined.

Six years ago when I came out as a Trans* man, some friends and even family, did not accept my decision to live authentically.  I had been living to please everyone else while I remained miserable.  As I got older, I wised up and realized that I could only live for me.  I had dreams, visions, and goals.  I had a purpose and reason for living!

I really wanted my long time closest friends to be a part of my growth as I transitioned into the man I always was.  I also wanted them to celebrate all the milestones in my future.  Some have stayed.  Others decided that they could not stick around to see the true and new me.  Most painstakingly,  I had to cut some friends and family out of my life because they were weighing me down.  People can be deterrents and detours delaying your destiny.

The two friends I called early on Christmas morning and numerous others who love and support me are my true family.  They are my family…RE-defined.  I discovered through out the years that family is more than blood.  Life begins as blood pulses from mother to child but for a child to develop inside and outside the womb, it needs air. And air is simply Spirit.  This child needs Spirit to live. This same Spirit exudes from my new family to and through me.  I have more friends that I call brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles.  I have Spiritual mommies and daddies.  I call anytime.  Sometimes they answer and listen as I process the junk that is holding me back. There are times that I can’t reach them in that moment but they call me right back.  Many have often rearranged their schedules to lend a love-filled listening ear.

No matter the circumstances, my new family is present in my life.  Spending time with them on Christmas day was the greatest present this man could ever desire.  After all, what I really wanted was a tall kitchen trash basket , a tie rack, and an ironing board.  Honestly, if I would stop being so lazy when I went to the store, I could pick them all up and be gone for under $50.
…But what I truly needed was to spend Christmas with a NEW Framework of Family.


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