A lot of folks grumble about attending their family reunion or other extended family gathering, but I really enjoy these rare opportunities to witness the diversity and evolution that occurs from generation to generation.
My extended family is particularly large. I just recently discovered that I have a total of (at least) 43 first cousins on my father’s side. Alas, I’ve only met about half of them and since the vast majority live in Idaho or in tiny Utah towns, I haven’t seen any of them in years. I actually learned how many cousins I had from my late grandfather’s obituary.
It’s my mother’s side of the family that has stayed put around the Salt Lake area. My cute aunts, including a great aunt, put in what is probably an unappreciated Herculean effort to bring us together three times a year. My favorite of the three took place last night: my grandfather’s birthday fiesta.
I don’t think there is a drop of Mexican or South American blood in our family, although I could be wrong. But my grandfather served a church mission down south and I can only assume the fiesta tradition began because he fell in love with the food.
Mexican food makes for a great potluck and since one of my favorite foods is sour cream cheese enchiladas, I look forward to the gathering every year.
This year, as my mother and brother are in Georgia and my sister was sick, I was the only representation from my immediate family. That being said, it was a packed house. If my count is correct, I believe there were 30 adults and 23 kiddos present spanning four generations.
Family is a wonderful and crazy thing, or at least mine is. We are all different and unique, but I have never felt judged or worried that one of my many cousins was gossiping about me. There’s just warmth, a funny toddler with a contagious giggle, a baby with an amazing set of pipes, and a ton of excellent Mexican food.
More and more, I have realized that appreciation lies at the heart of a happy life.
Family reunions might be a bit clunky and, yes, it’s true that I can’t remember all of my cousins’ kids’ names (every once in awhile one them forgets my kids’ names and I feel better), but you show up as yourself, grateful for what you have, and make the most of it, because there are a whole lot of people who wish they were in your shoes.
With appreciation comes connection, which breeds opportunity.
In this particular scenario, it was the opportunity to eat way too many enchiladas amongst some of the best people I know.