We're not in Montana any more.

We’re not in Montana any more.

I walked casually through the Depaul University campus. The evening was mild for December in Chicago, and it felt good to take a little extra time to notice the classic architecture and urban vitality of the campus. Exploring the northside on foot with friends was standard entertainment throughout high school and college. I love the trees in the city, oddball shops, and ethnic restaurants that are best discovered on foot and over deep conversations. It’s fun to feel the parts of myself that are homegrown.

“The Local Option” has one of the best selections of craft beer on the north-side, and has been a fun place to meet old friends. I spent last Friday night there with a few characters from various parts of my life- including two friends that I have known for over 20 years now (check them out, here and here). If I lived in Chicago now, I would still want to hang out with them just as much as I did when we were growing up.

It's not Christmas unless there is bowling.

It’s not Christmas unless there is bowling.

My 8 day trip to the midwest was challenging and affirming. Seeing my family for the first time in two years felt essential. My grandmother recently moved into a new facility in Columbus, OH that offers full service care for her advancing years. Her new digs are essential for providing peace for everyone in our family. Spending Christmas in a nursing home wasn’t ideal, but I couldn’t imagine a better or more important place to be.

My older uncle is developmentally disabled, and I’ve never felt comfortable taking the lead in providing the support he needs during family gatherings– until now. With my mom and younger uncle supporting my grandmother, stepping up was necessary. Funny that when you do it, it’s suddenly a lot easier and a lot more fun than you thought it might be.

Uncle Steve, I love you.

Uncle Steve, I love you.

There are more than a few parts of my life that I’ve avoided and concealed from sharing with my family, and in particular my parents. It hasn’t been fun, but I’ve felt it necessary as I’ve defined my own adulthood. It finally felt safe to take down some of the boundaries over this trip, and I think everyone was able to breathe a little easier when I did. Describing this trip to friends in Missoula I keep coming back to the same important point: it was the most authentic time I’ve shared with my parents in 10 years. My mom has always said- “family are the people that God wants you to have in your life that you might not choose for yourself.” Mom is right, and God is wise.

Happy holidays from the Carlson/Spies family!

Happy holidays from the Carlson/Spies family!

1 thought on “Homegrown

  1. Soren

    Being at peace with family does bring out the best in us … such as after dinner on Christmas:
    Soren [from CA]: you coming to FaceTime?
    Skander: No. I’m keeping Steve company.
    Skander: Watching alligator wrestling…

    I love you man,


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