I know the title of this post seems odd, but there is a reason for it. Regular readers of this blog know that I have a very large family. Back in the time most of us were conceived, Dad…
…was a diplomat and worked in Europe six months of the year, returning home in mid-December. He would drive to Oklahoma to pick up his wife (my Mom) and children (siblings). That is where we lived when Dad was overseas — on my grandmother’s family ranch (kinda more like a small horse farm, but we called it a ranch anyway.)
Mom and Dad would drive us in two cars back home to Maryland where we lived from late December to June, when the process would repeat again.
Why two cars? At any given journey, there were 10 of their 15 children on the trip. Three (or more as years went on) of my older siblings pretty much had flown from the nest by the time my twin brother and I came along, as well as our triplet sisters who are one year older than my twin and me.
The family was home for Christmas. And what happens with reunions of our parents? — More of us kids 🙂 Yep, 12 of their 15 children have birthdays from mid-August (my twin and me) to mid-September. We refer to ourselves as “Christmas Presents.” Giggle.)
Back in the day, each of us would have our own separate birthday party on or near our birthdays. For those of us who were multiples, sometimes we would have our birthday party on the actual day, and sometimes we would have our birthday party on a day close to our actual birthday so that each of us could celebrate our special day as the chief celebrant and center of attention.
Having several sets of multiples, my parents were careful to let us have our own special day without having to share. We liked it that way, but of course we also enjoyed sort of a second or third party when the twin or triplet’s party was held. These were very special times for all of us.
Now as much older adults, the birthday celebrations are more centered on the children and grandchildren (my nieces & nephews and The Greats.) But each year, we use our “Christmas present birthdays” to have a collective grand celebration.
This year, coinciding with the date that our mother died suddenly on September 11, 1998, the Fam decided to hold a big party. The weather was sunny and warm, but not excessively hot. We gathered at the house of one of my siblings whose property adjoins a park. The kids could run and play as only cousins can, and let us older aunts and uncles watch (and play) with great joy and amusement.
My family knows what a klutz I am, so when they were choosing people to play softball, they gave me a pass and just let me cheer. I am a good cheerleader, but not a ballplayer–no athletic abilities whatsoever. They know that and did not force me into doing something that is no fun for me.
This was not a true family reunion because not all of my siblings or their children could come. A rather small event by my family standards — there were about 150 people there, including brothers and sisters in-law, spouses of their offspring, as well as some of our own first cousins and long-time friends of the family. The Italian side of my family roots ensured that there was plenty — PLENTY — of food.
I wish my spouse would come with me, but my family tends to overwhelm. We are loud, raucous, and sometimes (at least the kids anyway), kinda rowdy. My spouse isn’t into that kind of activity, especially because he still isn’t feeling that well.
We took time out to gather and reminisce about Mom, as well as recognize the events of that date in 2001. We shared stories and memories, but tried hard not to be too melancholy. We wanted our younger family who never knew their Great Grandmother or Great Grandfather to know about them, and their love and commitment to each other and their children. We truly were blessed with lots of love that we continue to share to this day.
I stayed way too long, ate too much, ran around too much, and had too much fun. Here on Monday morning, I am sore-sore-sore from muscles I rarely use. But I am delighted that my face is not sore from all the smiling and laughing that I did all day. In a way, I feel hungover, but not because I drank too much (I do not drink alcohol), but perhaps a “hangover of happiness.”
I sure needed this break with the most wonderful, gracious, hospitable fun group of people in the whole wide world; my BFF sisters and brothers — and their children and grandchildren.
BTW — yep, Uncle BHD arrived via Harley, wearing my favorite Chippewa Firefighter boots with denim jeans and a t-shirt the family made special for this occasion. The Firefighters are comfortable and feel great — sort of like hikers — as I ran around with the kiddos.
Life is short: love your family.