The question of the week from Plinky is: What kind of family gatherings do you prefer?
Right off the bat I must say my favorite family gatherings are where all the participants are still breathing. Frankly, while the extended family may gather to offer tribute to an urn of ashes, it generally is not the most convivial of times. Unless, I am told, one goes to a Portuguese or Sicilian funeral when there’s a good deal of theatrics associated with the decedent. I’m advised it is akin to going to the opera. Friends who have married into these ethnic lines tell me I have not yet lived until I experience a real ™ funeral. I must admit, that the only one that really appealed to me was the friend who had his cremains shot out of a cannon during a revolutionary war reenactment.
I must admit, though, there’s a lot of food after a funeral or memorial service, as if food in some way propitiated the gods of the Ever After so as not to claim yet another of those present still generating brainwaves. Or perhaps it is easier to send a tuna and noodle casserole than to actually know what to say. So, generally the eats are good if a member of the family gathering is no longer doing the inhale/exhale thing.
Still, when it comes to family gatherings where everyone still has a pulse and when all the family participants have their hearing aids tuned up, it is great fun to listen to the little ones squeal in tonal ranges that can almost shatter fine crystal and leave some of us howling on the floor with a blown ear drum because the hearing aid didn’t respond quite fast enough with the sound damper.
Being a boomer who needs augmentation, let me tell you what’s so great about it. When your relatives get into spats during the family gathering, the hearing aid has an “off” setting or can conveniently be removed and stuck in a pocket. Note: just be sure to remove it before washing the item of clothing as those little suckers are expensive! And even if you do hear the disagreement, pretend you didn’t, cup your hand behind your ear and go, “Eh? What did you say?” and the participants will usually look at each other, turn in unison and say, “Never mind…” and look for a different mediator. And really, if the kids are squealing you may still be suffering from a bout of tinnitus and not be able to hear a bloody word. Reminder: Lip reading is only correct about 1/3 of the time. You can amaze your friends by looking at them with a confused expression and repeat what you thought they said.
Oh, yes, back to family gatherings. I did greatly enjoy going to my brother’s home for his 70th birthday. Here’s something of a replica of what happened to his cake with all 70 candles on it. No, it is not his picture. He’s quite the handsome devil, he is.
At any rate it was wonderful seeing his children and grandchildren – none of whom were in the brain liquefying scream age range (thank heavens!) My nieces were delightful and the great-nieces and great-nephews were simply the best! I’ve found we have a budding David Copperfield in the family! It was all quite remarkable. I don’t remember one family fight. Then again, I didn’t always wear my hearing aid. Sometimes I believe in the prophylactic approach.
So, what about y’all? What kind of family gatherings appeal to you? I’d love to finagle an invitation to my eldest niece’s 4th of July BBQ in Georgia sometime. Maybe. There are a few hundred people who attend and I might get lost in the crowd. But then I could go hang out with her two Rottweilers and her Black Angus pet calf named Lucky. And sweat a lot. And be served boiled peanuts. Do I want boiled peanuts? Deep fried pickles? Then again, maybe I could attend by video camera?
Happy Holidays to all of you who are attending family gatherings!