Gathering with family, big extended family, is becoming something of the past in our culture. Yes, we do it on holidays but as a general rule, it’s not like days gone by where families lived close by and those gatherings happened almost organically. Today, it takes planning, orchestrating and, most of the time, travel arranging.
My family is a big, loving amoeba. We pull people in who have no relatives nearby – or, who don’t like their nearby relatives. We are inclusive and welcoming and a little wacky.
Divorces have happened, but when it comes time to gather, exes all show up. For some of our extended family, that’s weird. For us, it’s perfectly normal. We figure they’ll just have to get over their discomfort or it won’t work.
Our Easter was big, noisy and fun. My mom compared it to speed dating…with 29 people in the house, we worked hard to spend a little time with each other, one-on-one or in small groups. We swept past the cursory, “How are you?” conversations and dove right into a topic of interest – helping decide a wedding location, vacation destinations, dispensing parenting advice or recipes, and telling a story or two about each other.
Speed love. No less meaningful but very efficient.
We laughed. We cried. We held hands, sang and prayed. We ate (more than we should have), cleaned up and made sure our bachelor brother had a fridge of leftovers. It was like locusts as we descended upon the house, took over the kitchen, the living room, the dining room and the backyard.
Driving the hour and a half home, we reminisced about holidays past. Family who were there in spirit and began planning the next gathering.
About Erin McLeod
Erin McLeod is the Senior VP for the Friendship Centers and devotes her time to advocating and raising money to support the many programs and services offered through the 40+ year nonprofit. She enjoys working with older adults. Her grandmother lived to be 102 and she has a very close friend who is 101½.