Laughter is what happens when a family my size finally gets together again after too many years apart.
Growing up, I remember yearly family bbqs where over one hundred members of my very large family came, pitched their tents, brought their food, played some baseball and sat around a firepit until the wee hours of the morning.
As a child, I couldn’t wait for everyone to drive up. I loved hanging around my cousins and watching my aunts and uncles all interact with one another. There was always laughter, sometimes arguing and chaos always reigned…but that’s where the memories were created.
Now, as I look at these family gatherings as an adult, I see things a little differently. As a child, I didn’t see the tiny fractures that occur within such a large group. In my eyes (as a child) every family was perfect, every sibling got along and all the cousins were just…well, we just all played together and knew one another.
This time though…my children were introduced to family members they’d never met. Even I met second and third cousins I met for the first time. The close bond wasn’t as close as I remembered – not at first at least. It didn’t take long though for the laughter over memories to begin.
Because I’m a writer, I had a lot of family members ask me to write a story based on the Jack clan. And I probably could. Except, I’m not sure digging into that family closet is always a good idea. However, I do tend to bring the personality of my family members into some of my stories.
Like Finding Emma, for instance. Jack – the beloved grandfather everyone has fallen in love with – he’s a combination of my father and my grandfather (and I named him after my family last name…Jack). Dottie has the strength of the woman I call mother and the grandmother I remember who raised such a lively clan. There there are the names of some of my uncles and even my father are included in the story.
While I don’t write about my family in particular, or even their stories … the way I remember some of my family members (like my favorite aunts and uncles with their jokes, the sweet smiles, the loving attitude and even grumpiness) are imbedded within the very core of my stories. It’s also probably why I love to write about families so much.
Back to the laughter part…my favorite part of being at the family gathering this past weekend was the laughter. No matter what was happening – you would see groups of people of all ages together laughing over something. Maybe it was a phrase a child said, or a memory someone just remembered or even a story as everyone brought everyone else up to speed on what’s been happening in their life. It didn’t matter – someone was always laughing. And my family is not the quiet kind, trust me.
A family who laughs together, stays together. Right? I think that has to be the case, because in my large family – thru thick and thin, I’ve always known my family would stand by my side whenever I needed them.
When was the last time you had a family gathering? Was there laughter involved?