What it means to be a family

Thick and thin

All families have that crazy uncle, or outrageous cousin. You know the one. The one that has too many drinks, says embarrassing things, makes funny noises in church. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. Crazy relatives can be a bit annoying, but usually they’re fun and we love ‘em anyway, right? After all, they’re FAMILY and families stick together through thick and thin.

The word ‘family’ gets bandied around quite a bit when talking about groups of people that are in the same social organisation. At SES we call ourselves the Orange family. A schools the teacher cohort is sometimes called a family. There’s the Police family, the Scouts group family … and the list continues.

When our group first got together in Tassie, we were expected to form friendships and relationships. We had to bond. We had to ‘Family’.

Part of the success of a group of newly met folk living and working together in a tiny community is credited to having a mindset of tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance, love, and kindness. It can be a challenge to conjure this mentality consistently, and there will be varying degrees of it from person to person. But we rose to the challenge.

With all the different personalities and backgrounds here, there are bound to be times where one might be annoyed or a little angry with another expeditioner, and that is perfectly normal. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference between a happy family and one that is not.

We share the thick and thin that all families endure. We share an abundance of highlights such as birthdays, dinner parties, the birth of an expeditioner’s grandchild, adventure, games, fun. Together, we also endure the not-so-great times, sadness, homesickness, missing the birth of a grandchild. We have even remotely attended a funeral down here.

Getting back to crazy family members, one might suggest that all of us who want to live and work down in Antarctica are a bit ‘touched’, in fact it’s our bragging right. However, some of us tip the scales a bit. Once I wore a penguin costume for the day, for no particular reason other than ‘that I could’. But that’s not the craziest thing. The really odd thing was that no one here even batted an eye. Not a peep from anyone. Yep, I’ve tried my hand at crazy down here, the competition is stiff.

So, are we really family? Well, I would say yes. Through thick and thin.

Chris Ronto