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Short Stories 365:345

Family is a big deal during the holidays, and that can be a blessing or... well, less than a blessing. It's funny, I grew up surrounded by in-law jokes - didn't every sitcom always have a cruel mother-in-law-joke when I was young, mumble-mumble years ago? Yet my in-laws are a constant source of joy to me. In fact, I've got a piece all about that in A Family By Any Other Name, which releases next year.

At this time of year, I go hunting for stories people tell of the good times with their families (be they chosen families or blood relatives), as a way to stock up against the perhaps less positive interactions I get to witness on a daily basis.

And sometimes, maybe I just enjoy a good story of familial escape...

"Comfort and Joy," by Jim Grimsley

I adore this story. First off, it has these grand characters who manage to live up to their role without descending into stereotypes. It's a rich upper-crust family that Ford is visiting for the holidays, and yet Mother and Father are smothering him (despite his age) and trying to hoist him toward marriage.

Given the reality of his being gay, there's little chance of him falling for the woman they keep trying to pass his way, but it's Ford's gentle nature (and his worrisome doubting inner voice) that win the reader over. Planned, careful, and tentative, Ford is a lovely character that you root for from the first step.

I've always enjoyed Grimsley's work, and this was no exception.