April 18, 2011


We gather.

At Mom and Dad's house.

I don't call them that. But three others do.

We eat.

Smoked turkey and marinated elk.

"Thanksgiving in April", we joke as we pass the mashed potatoes and corn fritters. I even made two pumpkin pies for dessert.

We talk.

Four generations sit around the oak dining table.

The stories abound. Stories from when my father-in-law was stationed in Hawaii. Stories of the Northridge earthquake and my mother-in-law building forts under the kitchen table to keep the kids safe. Stories of the recent past, only just entered into the family history last weekend, when two of the menfolk lit the back of the new truck on fire.

We laugh.

Sometimes so hard we cry.

My sister-in-law, six months pregnant, begins to sob when I jokingly offer her brother half a pumpkin pie. The mere thought of not getting any pie, even in jest, is enough to set off the waterworks. But all the other women in the room have been pregnant before. We remember. So we hug her tight, let her laugh through her tears, and when pie is served, she receives the first piece.

We plan.

Next Sunday night's dinner. It will be Easter, after all. Maybe ham?

With nine people in the family, and #10 due to arrive in July, there are plenty of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays to go around. At the moment, the main focus is my sister-in-law's baby shower. But between now and then, we have Mother's Day and two birthdays.

We help.

With anything and everything.

Moving, painting, mowing, building, cooking, shopping, cleaning.

We are a family.

With a dash of drama and a dollop of dysfunction.

Hey, we're only human. Of course we annoy each other sometimes. What do you expect from a close-knit group? But we are quick to forgive.

This is my family.

I wasn't born into it, but I count myself very blessed to be a part of it.

Being so far away from the family I grew up with is hard. But sitting around the dinner table, laughing harder than I've laughed all week, I find a balm that soothes and heals. And I smile. Because here, in the loud, noisy ring of others, I belong.

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