Last Friday after a couple of glasses I wine, I looked around the room at my family as we had gathered at my Aunt Pat’s house for my Nana’s wake. I realized a how much I had grown up. During my teens and into my twenties, family was something to suffer through like the flu or a J-Lo movie not something you enjoyed. For all of my friends it was like that. We would all gather the evening before a major holiday when we all flew out or traveled to our families homes. We drank cheap pints of PBR one after the other commiserating over our situation. We would all try to up one another with ‘how bad it was going to be this year.’ Each story became a more intense version of Hell complete with nagging mothers, drunken brothers, and spiteful sisters or cousins. Within each story you could sense the feeling of isolation and not belonging to the clan that you were born into.
But last Friday night was different. I smiled as my mother recounted how my Uncle Greg was accidentally left behind by my grandparents. Laughed at my cousins impressions of my late Nana and even did a fair amount of teasing myself. These were my people. These were the people that knew the real me. The little girl who pulled her dress over her head, got gum in her hair, and cried when her mean little brother would swing her beloved Barbie’s around by their hair. You can fool your friends with how smart or cool you think you are but family never forget the acne, crooked bangs, and red hots and cheese up the nose (don’t ask). I think the awkward and sometimes uncomfortable thing about family is that they force you to acknowledge that you haven’t always been this smart, pretty, thin, or cool. But maybe my acknowledging how far we’ve come will help us to realize how much farther we can go. Or maybe I’ve spent way to much time over analyzing this situation. Oh well. I had fun with my family. That’s what counts.