When I was young, I thought my family was insane.
Ok, to be fair, I still think my family is a little insane. When I was young, I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate it.
I have no doubt that I could point out flaws for every one of them. I have no doubt that they are all less than perfect. I have no doubt that some of their child-rearing tactics may have been questionable, not all of their viewpoints are grounded in logic, and that every time Mommom locked us out of the house for the entire day with nothing but some peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and told us to drink out of the hose if we were thirsty may have pushed us all a little closer to crazy. Yet, both time and recent events have taught me that I have one of the most amazing families ever – sure, they argue, go through crap, talk about each other constantly, and I’m pretty sure not everyone sees eye to eye on anything – but, at the end of the day, there is no doubt in my mind that everyone in my family loves each other beyond belief – for as much as they may seem to hate each other at times and for as many times as they may seem to forget it.
My family may be the only family that would take the time to video skype me in to birthday parties and dinners, and make a sincere effort to involve me even though I am thousands of miles away for an extended period of time. Tonight was one of those nights – my mom called me to ask me if I would be home this evening and if she could call me during my little brother and sister’s birthday party. She did, and I sat on the computer and watched a party I wouldn’t have missed for the world if I were in the United States. I had the opportunity to talk to many of the people in my family, whom I miss dearly, and, most interestingly, watch my family interact from a third party standpoint. I was overcome with nostalgia, and these past weeks away have made me appreciate these people in my life more than ever.
As a reflection of how I am feeling, I am going to take some time in this blog post and share with you some of my favorite memories of my family (if you’re reading this and you’re a part of my family, please share yours!)
- There were many times when Poppop would round up all of the grandchildren and take us to surprise outings … sometimes out to eat (where the waitress would be coerced into remembering as many names as possible for a bigger tip), sometimes to the dollar store (where we could get anything we wanted!), and sometimes just to drive around and play games. My favorite one of these outings happened one night when Poppop picked all of us older kids up in Mommom’s crazy conversion van and drove us to the woods. We all got out and walked (we had no idea where we were going!) to a field (I think it was somewhere around where Jim & Lorraine’s house is now). He had us all lay down in the grass and look up at the stars. He told us about the stars, the sky, and the animals that we heard. We ended up laying there in the dark for God knows how long listening to Poppop tell us stories. This is my favorite.
- I remember the summers that I lived with Mommom and Poppop, doing nothing but playing in the lake and running “the neighborhood” with the cousins like a pack of sun-streaked messes. Many times, Britni and I would get up early and go fishing with Jim (then known as Jimmy, or Jimbo). On her way to or from work before we were ever up, my mom would leave us a surprise taped to the front door – often in the form of gummy lifesavers (that’s what I remember most) – sometimes with a note telling us she loved us, and sometimes not, but we always knew it was from her. We would eat gummy lifesavers and fish with Jim on the beach as the sun came up, hoping one of us would catch a bass, or at least something good.
- I remember going to Maine in the summer. One particular trip, I rode up in a camper. Poppop was driving and while we were on the highway, a mouse came out of the vent. I remember him grabbing it with his bare hands (and to my horror!) throwing it out of the window. (Needless to say, my little animal-rights-activist self was very upset). Maine brough more days of playing with the cousins, rock hopping (our favorite pasttime!), fishing, catching giant frogs, and promises that if we brought back fish wider then our bodies they would be cooked and served to the family. It seemed like we ran this place with very little supervision, and everything was beautiful – even sleeping in tents and walking to the showers.
- One birthday (I think I was 12 or 13) I was sitting in what used to be the dining room (you remember, the green carpet and the chandelier?) at Mommom and Poppops, and, to my surprise, the family came in – each person holding a cupcake with a candle on it, singing to me. I had to blow them out one at a time – I was both embarrassed and deliriously happy at the same time.
- Running around the hotel in Florida with the cousins – trying to sneak onto the 8th floor and eat the oranges from the trees near the pool without getting yelled at, looking for shells and digging up sand crabs, catching and hanging lizards from our ears, that one night all of the kids were told to stay in a room while the adults played some crazy game that always seemed to involve someone jumping in the pool fully clothed (that we all wanted to play when we got old enough but haven’t gotten the chance to play yet), and thinking we were so grown ordering Shirley Temples and mozzarella sticks from the waiters at the pool.
- Santa’s HUGE effort at Christmas time – that, for those of you who weren’t there – included throwing rocks on the roof to simulate reindeer, and Uncle Jim (I think .. I STILL don’t know it was all so convincing!) actually getting ON the roof to look down and wave to us from the skylight – sometimes coming in for us talk to him, and sometimes dropping a bag of “early” presents from the roof in the name of an elf-shortage or a rush to deliver all of the other presents on time.
- Spending significant amounts of time every summer playing in the sand piles that Poppop would have delivered to the beach and later to tho behind the pool house, and, in the same vein, the mulch piles that Uncle Jim and Aunt Lorraine would have delivered to their yard. There was nothing better than the sand and mulch piles!
This blog post has the potential to go on forever, and so I will end there. To my family: I love and miss you all! I cannot wait to see you in person at Christmas! Thank you for all the amazing times, and the ones I know we’ll have in the future…