When my husband first met my large Irish Catholic family, he joked later that night that everyone should have worn name tags. He was overwhelmed, and that wasn’t even all of us!
My husband comes from a very small family, his mother has one sibling and his father is an only child. I am certain there are second cousins out there, but that just doesn’t seem to be the way they do things in their family. That’s okay…we all do life and family differently. And we have made our own family with his family as well.
My ever-growing family looks for any and all reasons to celebrate together…the minimum gathering of at least forty people.
That has been getting harder and harder to do, as alot of my cousins have children as well now, and they just keep coming!
My husband has grown to enjoy this big beautiful family and love them as his own, and they welcome his sister and parents into our massive clan gatherings whenever possible.
We don’t all see each other much anymore, as everyone is spread all over the country now, unlike when I was a kid we would all meet up at my Grandparents’ house for our Annual Fourth of July Family Reunion…oh the memories we made.
Endless swimming in the pool, games on their vast lawn, a spread of food and treats to feed an Army…we were an Army even back then! Sixteen cousins, ten Aunts and Uncles and the extended family of Great Aunts and Uncles and all of their kids!
Such great fun…I can see my Grandparents now…Our beloved Grandfather walking around hosting and manning the grill of a thousand hot dogs and hamburgers, with his cotton short-sleeved shirt unbuttoned all the way as he baked in the sun in front of the grill…Grandma in her crisp white skirt and tan legs with her patriotic shirt and golden blonde hair, smiling and ordering people to come eat!
These memories make me get choked up as I type this…happy days.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been other countless gatherings with all of my family-weddings, christenings, birthdays...but we have lost so many of those who made those days even more special…including my Grandfather (three years ago, and never have a day without missing him). And in a way, my Grandmother as well. She is still with us but in a nursing home and suffers from dementia…she still remembers us on occasion, but many of those long ago memories are gone forever. They are in there somewhere…and I know for sure, in her heart.
Family means everything to her…to all of us.
We may not always get along or agree on religion, politics, or how to raise of kids right…but we are family.
I adore each and every one of them, even if I don’t see them everyday…or even once a year anymore.
I am proud of all their accomplishments…doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, mothers…we are a well-rounded group that live for these family gatherings, and now, so do our children.
We have made them appreciate time together, and make parties something special…getting dolled up to go to a luncheon or party, to sit and talk about the latest celebrity gossip with cold beers in hand, talk about all those parties in the past, and watch our children’s eyes light eye up as they hear how much fun we had as kids (yes, we knew how to play games and have fun once too).
We are making our own memories now…a new generation of Great Aunts and Uncles, and cousins and parties…just last night my little ones shared an unexpected night of music, and dancing and endless giggles with some of their family…they will cherish that memory forever.
I know they will.
We look forward to more of those nights to come, and to cheer our Family Cheer and toast ourselves for standing together, standing strong in the memories of all those we have lost, and know they are in Heaven cheering with us each and every time…
Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Tiger…