From Declan Finn. I should add that Kea and I have very similar fathers: the difference is that my Dad is alive and I helped him shift sacks of peas (Pigeon food) as a kid while she learned how to maintain houses.

And to ski. And to tramp. Which is why we don’t do either now.

Our families are different. We are trying to make a better culture for our kids. But their families we pray, will eventually be happy. And different.

Tolstoy once wrote that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

This, of course, is just bullcrap.

Don’t believe me? Go to a meeting of the children of alcoholics sometime. Sit and listen to the stories. But, more importantly, look at the other members as they nod in agreement. They’re all checking off the boxes on the list. Because it’s the same exact crap, with minor variations, on a race to the bottom.

For the law enforcement / first responders who come across this, tell me if the following sounds familiar: A domestic violence complaint comes in to 911. A patrol car pulls up to the incident, and officers engage. No matter who is being beaten, or who is doing the beating, it’s a crapshoot whether or not the victims will turn on the responding officers or not.

It’s depressingly easy to call that one.

On the other hand, my family is awesome. We watched TV shows on playback, with the pause button ready, because all of us were ready to rewrite the episode, or call where the episode is going. Sometimes, we preferred our endings to the episode than what we got.

The family films have always been Die Hard for Christmas, Blown Away for St. Patrick’s Day. 1776 and Yankee Doodle Dandy and Independence Day for July 4th. Mother’s day is The Manchurian Candidate, and father’s day is The Empire Strikes Back.

We spent family time talking about philosophy, Ronald Knox, GK Chesterton, and the faith, because it’s a living thing that we understand and enjoy and apply to our lives, without having to worry about having holier-than-thou rollers in our midst.

Sometimes we talk current events, because the family motto is that we exercise our freedom from the press.

I never really had a rebel phase. Because teenagers are morons, and I didn’t want to go near them. I’m the nutbar who waited for marriage, so dating was interesting (read: nonexistent).

Now, riddle me this — how alike is my family to yours?

Well, not Catholic: initially Presbyterian then Charismatic and Pentecostal. TV news was a ritual. The newspapers were read. The news was trusted. In summer we played until it was dark. Throughout the neighbourhood, generally with the Catholic kids next door.

Church twice a day on Sunday.

And I debated everything with Dad. He’s about to turn 89: he still sticks to his principles, despite being exposed on TV a few years ago because he counseled what the gospel says and not what the rancid rainbow demands. This is about to be illegal.

I grew up in a country that could still call itself, without irony, Godzone. How we have fallen, and fallen mightily.