The Cavan Family - Christmas 2016


I have known this for a while, but its only in recent years the craziness has reached new levels. 

Mum and Dad raised us really well, they both worked really hard to provide for us, with Dad selling cars and Mum saving lives and then making a small turn and focusing on delivering new life into the world. 

I never remembered a moment where I didn't appreciate their hard work and love for us, but I'm sure there where a few years when my attitude maybe didn't reflect that. 

I have four siblings;

Sarah leads us off, she is wicked smart and kind she is a great person to follow into a room as people glow in her wake. She leads the family to be better, more kind and more thoughtful. She has never been given the luxury in our family to take herself to seriously, and she seems ok with that. She is married to Simon, a family loving, whiskey drinking, creative rockstar who tours the world playing music to thousands of people. Simon has added a lot to our family, most importantly, now, as of this year, landed himself the job of cooking the extended family christmas dinner, as he SMASHED it this year. They have the youngest of mum and dads grandchildren, Elliot, who has to be experienced. He's a beautiful addition to our family, bringing light, noise and dinosaurs in abundance. When Elliot does something, he does it right. Watch this space world. 

Victoria follows Sarah. Victoria is a trailblazer, a rule breaker and has one of the kindest hearts that I know. She was married to my brilliant and hilarious brother in law Peter for 12 years or so before they recently got a divorce. They have 3 children, the first three grandchildren for mum and dad, and parent them brilliantly through what has been a rough few years for everyone involved. Eve is beautiful young lady, who is the first to run up and give you a hug, even if thats when your in her school doing school photos. She loves deeply and is deeply loved in return. In May when I was taking the photos of hockey and rugby teams at her school, I made it crystal clear my feelings for Eve and everyone had to treat her with love and respect, much to her understandable embarrassment, but what else should a proud uncle do in those situations. Joel is a superstar and the definition of still waters run deep. A very talented sportsman with an exciting future ahead of him, watching him grow and mature requires close attention, as patience is the key when getting to know the real him. Finn is a monkey, who has the sort of look on his face the majority of the time that is a constant reminder that he is up to no good. A wonderful sense of fun and brilliant sense of humour, matched with a stern frustration with me when I wind him up, especially when he's tired. Victoria is a brilliant midwife, following in the footsteps of mum. Victoria is going out with Melissa, whose kind stillness brings a sense of peace to our crazy family occasions. 

After I was born, I think mum and dad must of sat down and had a discussion, looked at all they had with the first three, and plotted to fill in the gaps with one person, a final jigsaw piece, the beautiful hurricane that is my little brother, Matthew. Matthew has brought so much energy and life to our family, that mixed with a fair few moments of concern and worry, however I think he did that just to remind us how boring our family would be without him. I am planning in 2017 to do a documentary about this Matthew as his story and life is something that constantly intrigues me. If you are the sort of person that is too lazy to get to know people and just know of them through their labels, you would have a field day with this one. Currently single, gay, HIV+ actor and drag queen who has been given more grief about who he is than most people I know. When you set these labels down and find out who the human being is, you'll find a beautifully complex young man, who has the ability to captivate a room at the drop of a hat [of which he has many]. A young man who no matter what life throws at him, as the internal strength to throw back the middle finger and continue being who he was made to be. Now does this human being frustrate the life out of me? Yes of course but is that not one of the main roles in being a little brother. He is a young man I am immensely proud of. Whether on stage as his brash drag alter-ego Cherrie Ontop [I roll my eyes every time I say that name out loud] , or off stage as Matthew Cavan, my pride does not dwindle. 

Our family is headed up by our visionary without sight, my Granny, better known to most as Nessa, or Nenna to the great grand children. An old blind lady who makes up for all that she lacks, mainly her sight, with an incredible determination to live a 'normal' life. She can recount carrying her guide dog through broken glass ridden streets of Belfast, in the aftermath of a fresh bomb, so that the dog didn't cut its paws. A lady who went blind at 22 and proceeded to becoming a mother, raise two children, play a big part in raising her 6 grand children and is still going strong. I challenge anyone who meets Granny, to start a conversation with her and not be smiling from ear to ear within the first few moments. Granny's lack of sight has been a massive part of our lives growing up, however, in Granny, someone who has not seen her own refection in 60+ years, I don't know if I have ever met anyone who could see so clearly who she was, and the others around her. I have memories of her gentling moving her hands across my face as she drew her mental picture of what I looked like. However, even more impressively, I would ring her regularly growing up and within seconds of her answering the phone with the consistent Heeeeellllo, she could tell when something was wrong and like a magician it only took a further few minutes before I was opening up to her. 

Mum and Dad within 2 weeks of each other retired before Christmas. So during our Christmas meal, the Thursday before Christmas, we made sure we recognised this moment in their lives that hopefully allows them some of the luxuries they have provided for us over our lifetime. 

Oh my family life is a mess! A TRUE MESS! We have definitely taken the path less travelled in our ever changing formation. A night with our family you might see this in reality, you might see the personalities I've described, you might see what my wee family brings to the mix through Julie's warmth, and Reuben and Ollie's gentle joy, you might see the scars from years of pain and heart ache, you might see the laughter lines of each face, you might see people stretching over each other, sitting on each others knees, holding hands, and you might see the space people have left behind as they move on that we refuse to fill. 

Family is tough, you don't choose these crazy folk, you can't control everything they do or what happens.

But let me tell you, they are my crazy folk, they are my mess, and I love it! I love them in the way something you love makes you laugh til you cry, cry til you laugh. 

I have watched love in action all my life;

I have watched a broken Mum walk side by side with her son through Pride parades in Belfast, walking that bit closer as they walked past the righteous group protesting the outrage of the event. 

I have watched a Dad not skip a heart beat in offering me everything and anything I needed. 

I have watched Sarah listen, and quietly guide ALL of us through really tough times in our lives. 

I have watched Victoria in work, sitting beside a grieving mother of a still born, giving her comfort in her silent companionship. 

I have watched a baby brother stand there when people around him take turns in telling him how much of a 'fuck up' he is and how his 'lifestyle' disgusts them and then watch him try and stay true and positive to himself. 

And these are only a few counts of times I have been overwhelmed with pride for my family. 

Just before Christmas we had the rare chance of getting everyone in the room at the same time. 

This is my family. 

I am proud to be a Cavan. 

Have I gone mad?
I am afraid so, you're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret, ALL THE BEST PEOPLE ARE

Lewis Carroll - Alice in Wonderland