It was a super special Thanksgiving this year. All the babies were here! My big sister, who hadn't been home for Thanksgiving in 15 years, was here! With her husband and both of her kids! My brother and his wife and their baby were here from California! My baby sister and slightly wacky baby brother (plus girlfriend) were in from California too! (did I ever tell you that I hate California? I do. It steals my family.) All the babies are about the same age and it was the first time we had them all together.
All of us back together for a significant length of time can be tricky. We're SO HAPPY to see everyone and to be seen by everyone. We want to spend lots of time together. Normal family routines and obligations fall by the wayside. I want to hold their babies and they want to hold my baby and the spouses try desperately to keep up and participate and stay out of the way at the same time. I can't imagine what it must be like to be new to our family. Not that my inlaws are that new anymore. Even so, we're so clannish and exclusive. We have so many inside jokes that it's practically a different language. It can't be easy for Frank or my inlaws to sit at the same dining room table as everyone else and have absolutely no idea what's going on. It must be weird to see their wife/husband spoken to like a little brother or a big sister. Frank is an only child so I have no experience with it at all.
Family politics are sticky. There's a certain amount of regression to the roles we played as children; the boss, the knowitall, the brat, the wingnut, the mute, the loose cannon, the baby. Even though we're all adults now and our conversations are about real grownup stuff, eventually and inevitably, personalities clash and feelings get hurt. People feel slighted or left out or disrespected and we kind of all remember why we left home in the first place.
But not last Thursday. Last Thursday we all gathered at my mom's to eat and talk and take pictures. We tried to cram in memories and conversation and laughter in between cramming turkey and stuffing. We watched our kids sing and dance and create a new layer of memories in the story of our family. It was all over too soon. My big sister - my only older sibling - went back to Europe on Saturday. My my baby sister left Monday morning followed by my brother and his family on Tuesday. All too soon these people that my boy is just getting to know and recognize are gone. We're all back to the normal routines of the lives we've made for ourselves. It was nice to be 12 years old again for a while though.