Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ah the Holidays...

Family Post #1
Sometimes you need to look at the people who were there before you, blazing the trail so you didn't have to. I'm not talking about the figures we read about in history books. I mean the people who paid the mortgage month in and month out, the leaders who went to college, the heroes who get up every day and go to work so that small children can experience childhood as it was meant to be. The ones who worked hard so I could dream, the ones who sacrificed so I could have. I'm talking about family.

This weekend, after spending the first part of the week sweating out two legal memos, I went and spent some time with family. I loaded up the ride, scooped up my brother and headed into the wilds of lower South Carolina to re-visit where I come from. And maybe remember why I'm headed where I'm headed.

I would say I first went to visit my people in the country, but that wouldn't be right, because ALL my people is from the country. So let's just say, I went to vist my maternal folks first.

When I was younger, going to my aunt's house for Turkey day was a magical trip. They would start cooking on Sunday. Two or three turkeys. Chicken. Ham. Venison. Ribs. Rice and Gravy. Macoroni with Cheese. Stuffing. Green Beans. Butter Beans. Peas. Candied Yams. Buttered Rolls. And this is just what i can remember eating. There might be ten different desserts. Going to their house was a feast, there would be enough food for a hundred, with family and relatives you might not see again for months. Folks and neighbors would float in and out all day. It was time to catch up, to hear all those funny stories day I'll speak on my cousin Ray...and reconnect with the folks who will care for you, no matter what. My brother thinks it's more important than the insanely over commercialized Christmas. I think he's got a point.

Earlier this year, one of my aunts on that side of the family had a stroke, and so we visited them. The usual buffett was set out in the kitchen, okay maybe food for fifty this time, and we all passed in and out of her room so that she could have visitors. She's come a long way, but she's got a ways to go yet. But her sense of humor hasn't been affected one bit. She cracked jokes with every other sentence, keeping us in stitches as we all made the best of what it was.

It's moments like this, when family means something.

Then before it got too late, I went to visit the paternal peoples. My grandfolks are nearing 90, and my grandfather still won't sit still. He's such a busy body, my grandmother made the old boy get a cell phone. Yes, my 90 year old grandfather has joined the cell phone generation, showing off his new phone and even playing me a few of his custom ring tones. This was one of life's jaw dropping moments.

I also renewed the deal I have my grandmother that we're going to dance at my eventual wedding, which to her means she can't "go anywhere" and has to keep active. It's the same deal we've had since I was 15, although now she razzes me about great grand babies now instead of wives. I remember when I was a kid, that house my grandparents lived in seemed so big, and now it seems crowded whenever you have more than four people in the kitchen. And just like when I was kid, even from her wheelchair (sigh), I watched grandma take a few minutes to make sure my granddad's hair was okay.

When I talk about love...65 years like them is what I mean.

How deep in the country was I? Well my people have a gas stove...powered by the gas tank in the yard. At night you can see the stars in the sky (and if you think that's easy, go outside and try it). Furniture and fixtures from the 1970s...and that's the new stuff!!! I mean thirty five minutes from town...where the town is forty minutes from a slightly bigger town...which is an hour from any reasonable sized city. Both times.

I've been to the middle of nowhere. It's where I'm from. And my family is still there.

Barkeep. I think my uncle used to drink that Crown. So set'em up.

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