For me, getting together with my cousins is better than drinking champagne. There is something about looking into their eyes, seeing those smiles and hearing their voices that energizes me. This year, I finally made the commitment to host a party with my family.
I know that I wrote about family parties in Lies That Bind and the family members sniped at each other and formed cliques. We didn’t have that type of party. I seldom see a group of people who interact with as much love and respect as my cousins. I love to watch them sharing their stories and retelling the old family stories. I can almost see bonds forming, wisdom being passed and family members finding solid ground.
The magic of a family that treats each other with love and respect seemed to permeate even into our pets. For Saturday dinner we had fifty-eight people and eight dogs present. The pack of dogs occasionally wandered through the crowd of people, but mostly they went off and played doggie games with each other. They never got rowdy or growly with each other. They were just a joy to watch as they explored my acre of gardens or followed the preschoolers.
The preschoolers were another delight. Our family is at the stage where another generation is having babies. We had two tiny babies and three children who were three. The three year olds started with sharing a few toys and running some trucks around then they discovered the fountain and my child sized pails for holding cut flowers. The children industriously watered all the weeds in my garden. When it was time for my niece to take her son home, he’d gotten totally in to the cousin thing and spontaneously hugged his three year-old, fourth cousin goodbye. Those two caught the magic.
It all sounds idyllic to talk about a family dedicated to loving each other. I admit that I got hundreds of heartfelt hugs of gratitude for hosting the party. We laughed a great deal. From the outside it may appear that we don’t have problems. It may look as if we all grew up in amazing, stable, loving homes. No. Most of us have had cancer—many of us have had it more than once. I am officially classed as disabled as are some of the others. Not all of us had two parents who knew how to parent. Some of the cousins who came had a rough childhood. Still each person came to the party and gave and received love. How is it that we can get together and share such love that even the tiny children and dogs treat each other amiably and share the opportunity to explore the world together?
I think the answer to that question lies in the decisions we make. I could decide to recline on my sofa and whine about being tired or in pain, or I could get up and do something that makes me feel better. I can decide to discipline myself to rest when my body needs to rest. Most of all I can decide to love and be happy. As I talked to my cousins, I understood that they have made the same decision. We need to decide to treat each other with respect. People must make a decision to love. Yes, we’ve all been sick or disappointed, but have made the decision to be happy, love and find new life adventures.