(Applies Aftershave) ‘AHHHHHHHH!’

?This column is dedicated to my parents. I’ll be home for Christmas.

Even before Home Alone came out in 1990, I recall noticing my dad’s Brut aftershave. Brut glows green cartoonishly like a bottle of poison; so naturally, it stood out to me. After seeing Kevin McCallister use Brut aftershave when his dad wasn’t home, I, of course, had to do the same. And I learned a very important life lesson: Brut really does burn. Home Alone perhaps taught me a more important life lesson: Good parents make mistakes. And, as Home Alone 2: Lost in New York taught me, sometimes good parents make the exact same mistakes multiple times.

When I was a teenager, I vowed never to come back home for the holidays. I came out to my parents when I was 16 years old and, without getting too much into the details, I can’t say that it went well. Although I knew my parents loved me, their actions were really hurtful, and I left home a year before I had planned to finish high school. Over the years, our relationship improved significantly. But seven years ago, when I told them that I was getting married, they told me they wouldn’t come to the wedding. Again, although I knew my parents loved me, their actions were very hurtful, and I renewed my vow to never go back home for the holidays.

I used to see myself as Kevin in Home Alone, but now I see things slightly differently. I’m actually the McCallister house, and Kevin is just my inner child. The scary basement furnace represents the parts of me that I’ve had to accept and not be afraid of. Old Man Marley is the queer community—once vilified to me, but in which I’ve found friends and my chosen family. Harry and Marv are all the demons that I’ve struggled to ward off from stealing away the best parts of me.

And Peter and Kate McCallister are my parents. Like all good parents, they made mistakes. They left a child behind—a child who, despite his excitement about his coming-of-age prospects and his ability to handle many of the challenges he faced, really wasn’t ready to take care of the house all by himself. Although he was successful at overcoming his fears, he ultimately wasn’t able to fight off his demons alone. Those parents then made a similar mistake years later. But upon realizing their mistakes, they always made genuine efforts to find their way back to their house and back to the child inside, just in time for Christmas.

With this year’s holiday season right around the corner, I hope you’ll consider finding your way back to your family or chosen family, even if you’re still hurting from mistakes they’ve made. If they’re still trying to find their way back to you, then there’s always the possibility of mending those relationships and having a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Michael J. Ritter
2022-2023 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association

For more information on TYLA, contact them at tyla@texasbar.com or go to tyla.org.


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