remembering / musing

Family matters

Being fifty something, I know that nothing matters more than family.

You don’t always think that way in your teens.

Even in your twenties you might be a tad self-centric or money obsessed to see it clearly.

Once you’ve navigated your busiest parenting years (for me, my thirties) and are struggling through the perpendicular learning curve of your forties, it’s much more defined.

By the time you’re fifty-something you have no doubt that family is central to the meaning of life.

That’s my experience anyway.

In our wider family we celebrate together regularly. Everyone has a birthday buddy or two and we meet several times a year to honour birthdays, Easter, Christmas and more. We don’t need much of an excuse to break bread together, eat cake and clink glasses or coffee mugs in unison.

Our most recent gathering was an “extraordinary meeting” to farewell my twenty-something nephew who is heading off to the UK on a 6-month cricket playing adventure. What an opportunity for him!

Those that could make it did – my three fifty-something sisters, our partners, our kids, their partners and their kids.

It’s lovely to be spanning three generations again with the littlies attracting plenty of attention. They’re a reminder of the circle of life, the handing down of our family heritage to the future.

There was the obligatory table groaning beneath the weight of the culinary spread. The outcome of our simple bring-a-plate format says a lot about us. There were two almost identical antipasto platters, two plates of brownies (one pecan, one gluten free) and three other assorted slices. Anything you like, so long as it’s antipasto or slice.

Katy photo for our family gathering
Photo courtesy Katy, my nephew's gorgeous girlfriend
(that's her Mars Bar Slice in the red star bowl)

Yes, we do tend to think alike. At one gathering we had a plethora of cupcakes and at another a run of spinach dips served in scooped-out cob loaves. It’s all part of the fun and a reminder of our close connections.

At one stage I found myself sharing a sofa with two of my fifty-something sisters as we discussed our feet and ankle problems in intricate detail. It seems like yesterday that our conversation centred on our babies’ sleeping problems or our boyfriend troubles. Yet, here we are.

Our twenty-something (and thirty-something) kids huddled over their smart phones, playing “Draw something”. Their laughter echoed though the house, but one-by-one they drifted their way back to the main group and filled us all in on what they were up to … on “Draw Something” and in their lives.

We don’t live in one another’s pockets in between gatherings. We mostly keep up via facebook and phone calls here and there.

Sometimes I dread the thought of a family gathering … they can be a sad reminder of those who are no longer with us. The gaps they leave are never more obvious than when we’re all together.

But once I’m there, a family gathering seems like one of the safest, most familiar places in the world.

As we left (my body groaning beneath the weight of the goodies I had consumed), I gave my soon-to-be-travelling nephew a big hug and swapped Skype addresses with him.

He will be a changed man when I next see him in person.

Having journeyed half-way round the globe and back, he will be a little closer to knowing just how much family matters.

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