Arts & EntertainmentBooks

It’s All Relative

by Wade Rouse
Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer


You’ve got half a year, more or less. It’s going to take that long to recover from the last round of family holidays and to get used to the next Forced March of Togetherness. You’ll need time to forget about the angst that comes from spending more than 20 minutes in the presence of loonies, grumps, loudmouths, and old Uncle Epp, who annually fails to remember that you outgrew that “got yer nose” bit several decades ago.

You’ve got half a year to steel yourself, because you’d never even consider spending holidays away from kin—and neither would Wade Rouse. In his new memoir It’s All Relative, he writes about family, celebrations, and fiercely loving both.

Who among us hasn’t endured some unique holidays in our lifetimes? Remember, for instance, the Christmas when … well, some things are best forgotten. Others should be remembered for the lessons they imparted.

Let’s start at the beginning.

New Year’s Eve is usually a time to start fresh with resolutions and a new calendar empty with possibilities. But sometimes, an unexpected moment portends all the possibilities we’ll need for the rest of our lives.

Valentine’s Day, for the gifting-impaired, can be laden with angst—whether we’re first-graders handing out cheap paper cards or grown-ups choosing a romantic offering that falls flat. The important thing, though—and the hardest to remember when faced with an awful Valentine—is that the meaning behind a bad present is sometimes the real gift.

On Mother’s Day, we pay homage to Dear Old Mom: she who made weird Halloween costumes and who stood up to Dad when he needed it. And sometimes, she stands up to us when we need it, too.

And then there are the holidays we make bigger than life, and that forever stick out in our minds: the St. Patrick’s Day spent with green body paint, the Secretary’s Day we learned that we’re nobody’s “type,” the romantic vacation that ended with a question mark, the Memorial Day when past mysteries become crystal-clear, Be Kind to Animals months that aren’t so kind to our hearts.

Family Game Nights.

Final Christmases.

Still smarting from the last disastrous holiday? Yep, we’ve all had them, and It’s All Relative is empathetic—to a point—and surprisingly bawdy.

Author Wade Rouse has a way of making us laugh. He writes of life with his eccentric family and his partner, Gary, who is deeply romantic and Rouse’s perfect opposite. Rouse isn’t afraid to be the bad guy in his books, and that self-depreciating honesty is hilarious.

But beware.

Rouse is quick with his wit, but he has the amazing ability to turn tears of laughter into tears of emotion in the space of 20 words. He knows how to make a funny-bone tingle, but he also knows well how to charge a moment with feeling.

If you’re staring at a family get-together anytime soon, this book is a nice nudge toward grace and gratitude. It’s All Relative is, in fact, a book to add to your calendar soon.

It’s All Relative

by Wade Rouse

2011, Crown

289 pages


Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.



Terri Schlichenmeyer

Terry Schlichenmeyer is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

Leave a Review or Comment

Back to top button