This past weekend, my family on my mother’s side had a family reunion. Aunts, uncles and cousins from many states came over to my parent’s house in the Catskills to spend two nights together. 40 people (30 adults and 10 children until the age of 10) all crammed together in one house with just three bathrooms. It was glorious. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. See, the thing about my family is that we don’t really have that family drama you always hear about, the rivalry between aunts and the dislike between siblings. For some reason, we aren’t about that. Of course we still have familial issues, because let’s face it, who doesn’t?! But ultimately, we all get along well with each other, and gathering together has always been fun. Nothing says family bonding time quite like sleeping on the floor with 25 other people as your uncle and older brother have a battle-of-the-loudest-snore!
Before my grandfather passed away almost five years ago, the whole family always gathered together for basically every holiday. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, or any other excuse we could come up with to get together. This was a simpler time. This was before the cousins all went off to college and started their lives in different states. This was when Abuelito was still alive, keeping us together. He was the head of the family, the mold, and he loved nothing more than spending time with all his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Since he died, it’s been a bit difficult to maintain that tradition of celebrating every holiday together; but one thing has not changed: the love we have for one another. That love is priceless. We have an interesting way of showing it (name-calling and teasing are the go-to love method, jokes about everyone) but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We try to have a big family reunion at least once a year, and so far, so good. There will always be a few people who can’t make it for whatever reason, but the important thing is that we try. So while we may have lost our way a bit since Abuelito’s death, I like to think that he’d still be proud of us for at least maintaining in contact with each other all the time (hello, wattsapp family chat group!) I imagine him smiling down at us from Heaven as we laugh about something silly. I think we do a pretty good job of keeping his spirit alive amongst us as well. He was a joker, and we’ve got jokes for days. And there is never, ever a dull moment. Not with so many people around! And so much food. Seriously, food coming out the wazoo. It amazes me that we somehow manage to feed so many mouths and no one seems to go hungry. Amazing. I love my family, and I am so very grateful and blessed. Definitely wouldn’t have it any other way.