Recently, I baked some cookies. I hadn’t had freshly home-baked cookies in a while and I figured I might as well try to make them myself. Of course I had help, but it was pretty much my idea and work that got the cookies made. Turns out, they were good cookies and people liked them. Yay me!
But my reasons for making the cookies weren’t just influenced by the singular need to eat them. I wanted to make them for my “family”. I put that word in quotes because I’m going to try to broaden its meaning further than what its dictionary meaning is and try to talk about who is my family.
First, there’s the literal definition of Family. Blood relatives. In terms of the cookies, my mom had helped me by finding the ingredients for me when I’d asked where they were and she, my dad, and my sister had the cookies first (After me of course; what do you think I am, generous?). These people are important in your early life and as you get older you realize how even more important they are. Or so I’m told. I’m still a teenager so that sort of sentimentality hasn’t properly hit yet. But the problem with that family is that you don’t get to choose them. If you have a conflict with someone, it’s not easily solved by just walking away. When you still live in a house with them, you still have to deal with them every day. For many people this is a rough thing to do, but as every single Disney movie as taught me: Family is important. They are a part of you no matter how much you may deny it.
But what about a different kind of family? Maybe a sort of family that you may not even see face to face? This second example is the family that you choose. Most people call them friends. I don’t have many friends, but I have a lot of family. I’m in a specific online community that’s devoted to what essentially is DnD for sports nerds (you should join, tell them Jiggly sent you). This is a community where each person lives their own separate lives independent from the “sim league”, but use the league as an escape to talk to different people. And for me, someone whose days are filled with either being locked up in my room or aimlessly wandering around a campus, it is a MAJOR escape in terms of being able to have something at least resembling human interaction. But that’s just friends. What moves these people into “family” territory for me? It’s simple: caring.
I’ll keep the details confidential (even though anyone from that community will clearly remember this night), but there’s a young user who was going through some rough shit one day and I spent all night on Discord trying to do my best to talk them through it. Because of this, they jokingly called me “Mom”. I honestly embraced the name because I thought it was funny and I figured the kid would need some sort of extra guidance in the coming days. Do I know who this kid is outside of the league? No. Do I know what he even looks like? No. Do I at least know his real name? Maybe, I think I forgot. But I care about them. And I know that if I say something asking for help, they’d care enough about me to help me.
While that’s just one person I was talking about there, I have countless stories of all these different specific people who have become like family to me because of how much I trust them. Maybe I’m too trusting, but whatever. But I’m sure that many of you can relate to that idea of a community of online people who you that even if you’ve never seen their face, you’d absolutely look to them for help in a heartbeat. That’s not just a friend. That’s family.
Also, since I couldn’t send them the cookies, I was telling them all about my plans to bake cookies and made sure to send them pictures of the cookies right out of the oven. So that’s how they fit into the cookie story-line.
This still leaves a whole lot of cookies unaccounted for, especially since my sim league family didn’t eat any of the cookies. I wanted to save these people for last, because this is a weird combination of the first two examples. This is a group of people I’ve known my entire life and grown up around. Of course, I’m talking about my Chicago Fire family.
I’ve said this so many times now, but they are truly family to me. These people, especially those who are still here after all of this bullshit that’s come down on us, are so important to me. It’s a dumb thing to say as a writer, but I really don’t know how much more I can explain this than I have in the past. I grew up in the Soldier Field parking garage at Section 8 tailgates and this amazing community has shaped me into who I am today. There is no other word that I can describe this group of people other than “Family”.
Of course, I’d feel a little weird talking about the Fire Family without talking about Sector Latino, who was banned earlier this year. There’s been plenty of coverage on this situation and I don’t think that a “professional opinion” from me is needed. While not exactly where I planned this post going, this whole idea of “Family” extends to this as well. The most poignant words I can muster is this:
The Chicago Fire is not just a “team”, it’s not a “franchise”; it is a Club, it is a Culture, and it is a Family. And when you cut off a part of that family you cut off a part of yourself.
So when I made cookies “for my family”, I made sure that I baked them the night before the final home game of the season and handed them out to everyone at the tailgate. And I absolutely plan on making more for next season.
I guess this is about as much as I feel that I can write tonight, but I’ll try to sum my ideas: You can’t choose your family. Even when you technically do, they also have to choose you. It’s about having a mutual concern for the others’ well-being. It’s about love. And love is about giving everything and expecting nothing in return. When there’s an issue, solve it. Because no matter how much you can deny it they’re still family and in the end it’s not about how many friends you have, but how many of them aren’t friends, but family.
(I just realized I didn’t add a single .gif into this piece, so here’s one now)