Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Family Patriots

sb10068052b-001, Jamie Grill /Photographer's Choice RF
photo credit
This week I've been thinking about people. Or more specifically, how to make the most of my precious time with the people I love. This summer feels like one long merry-go-round ride of glimpsing loved ones who I don't often see. Do you remember riding the merry-go-round when you were little? I used to spend the entire time frantically craning my neck to catch the two second glimpse of my mom on the sideline before the ride whisked me around again. That's exactly how this summer feels. Like I have two seconds to wave, and then around the bend we go.

When you think about family reunions, or any sort of reunion with a loved one, what is the best way to spend time with them? What do you do that leaves you feeling sated, so that when you wave goodbye you can think to yourself it was great. No time wasted.

We had a two day turn around time last week between our friends returning to England and a July 4th reunion with Jeremy's family. I suppose technically it's his family, but they've belonged to me too for a lot of years now. But it isn't whiplash from party-hopping that is affecting me this week, so much as the feeling that the goodbyes are about to start all over again. In the back of my mind I'm constantly wondering if our time together is enough? Are we saying all the right things, and spending our brief time together in a way that will propel our relationships forward? I dread that family-reunion-gone-wrong feeling that can infect everything and everyone for a long time to come. And so I had high hopes for this week, and so far our time together feels eerily normal. Like our interactions and activities are just a continuation of what's been going on for more than a decade.

Usually my July 4th festivities are filled with fireworks, parades, and barbecues. But this year my impression of the holiday looked and felt slightly different. It wasn't the patriotism that I was noticing so much, as the family values that bind us and keep us close. While the quirky parts of a reunion are different for every family, here are some of the small parts that characterize a typical Gillespie reunion:  

  •  It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without watching Jeremy's dad eat half a pound of melted butter on his steak.
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without me cruising around with my sisters-in-law trying to find an open nail salon.
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without a bag of Oreos and a one pound block of cheese being consumed per day. 
  • It woudn't be a Gillespie reunion without nearly all the adults taking time to play with our kids. This family is all about the little people!
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without Jeremy and his brothers heckling his younger sister about her boy friend.  
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without ridiculously late nights full of stories and trips down that good ol' memory lane!
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without Jeremy and his brothers speeding down the freeway, weaving in and out of traffic.
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without a temple trip. I'm convinced that tradition is one of the central tradtions that keeps us loyal and close.
  • It wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without an uplifting conversation with the other young mothers about the hows and whys of motherhood. I admire the other mothers so completely, in all their strengths and differences. 
And lastly, it wouldn't be a Gillespie reunion without me feeling that all too familiar, tugging reminder that our time is short. And so it is. But even without the usual parade and fanfare I can confidently say that this year the Fourth of July meant something important.

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