I have spent an entire weekend in the company of my bf’s extended family, resting and relaxing near the beach. His grandfather is on the verge of celebrating his 90th birthday – so the clan has gathered, to eat, drink and reminisce. The guest of honor can no longer remember most things properly, so the main event, oftentimes felt as though they were telling him the story of his own life, him sitting there not being able to contribute nor tell if the stories are accurate to not. The atmosphere could have been maudlin, but it was anything but. Literally.
As I was sitting there, I could see the linage not only on the people’s faces, but also in their behavior. It was obvious these people were built from the same building blocks. They enjoyed the same humor, interested in the same topics, got agitated from the same pet peeves – and because of the blatant similarity, seemed to harbor a certain animosity towards each other. It is said that opposites attract, and I have seen first-hand that likely-minded individuals who spend a weekend together are tempting faiths in setting themselves on a collision course.
By Saturday at noon, when the coveted photo-op was scheduled, tensions were running high. It was evident most people present were already planning their escape.
All the while I was thinking about the fact that my family, though it may not want to attend a weekend of this sort, doesn’t even have the option. Our extended family is made up entirely of our immediate family, and has been ever since my early youth. My grandparents didn’t get to see their yet-to-be-born grand-grandchildren, or even get to know the sort of people their grandchildren are turning out to be. I never got to speak to my grandparents as adults, to assess them and to be bestowed with their knowledge procured in the school of hard-knocks. I have photos, barely memories. I found myself wishing that my parents may live to the age in which I could impose a similar weekend on my grown up kids.
And on a less serious note – a few lessons learnt (mostly) vicariously:
- Don’t tell a woman who was born in Russia in 1922 that you are going to a protest as part of a social revolution. You might scare her half to death.
- When 19 people say they’ll convene at a certain hour for a photo, just get there an hour late- they’ll still be arguing where to put the camera.
- If your significant other can’t make it to a family function, you might as well skip it too. Otherwise you might spend the entire weekend complaining how you got a single room in the “widows” section.
- Bringing a one year old to a vacation automatically guarantees he\she will get sick, and you’ll spend the weekend worrying. And everyone else will be bummed cause they can’t play with the baby.