By: Amber Kinser, Ph.D
I am hosting a family reunion this weekend and there will be 20 people at my house. Not as huge as some reunions, to be sure, but much to organize and plan and cook just the same, not to mention bedding to organize. My mission was to think really, really hard about the meals in the hopes that, after all that thinking, I’d figure out a menu that did not have me in the kitchen most of the time the family was reunioning. Of course that required an immense amount of planning and work on the front end and I’m pretty exhausted at the moment…a bit of a drag given that the fam will start to present Thursday afternoon and I’ve a long way to go before I’m ready…but I digress. Anyway, about missing out on things while trying to create an atmosphere that is perfect for doing all the things and having all the conversation I’ll be missing out on. My kitchen is located close to and within view of where much of the family talk and laughter will take place, but in previous “bashes” as we call we them I’ve been preoccupied with parsley and dill and sauces and whether we’re about to run out of ice for the ice cream churn so my ability to engage in the levity and guffaw is limited. (Plus, can I just say that the incessant sound of sports and news—sounds which otherwise rarely bounce of the walls at my house—make me feel like I’m the one who is bouncing off the walls and anyway who can concentrate on measuring lemon juice for bleu cheese coleslaw (allrecipes.com) with all that noise and commentary by men about things the knowledge of which is neither going to help my (prepackaged) cheesecake thaw nor my card table get set up (a card table at which, you’ll be shocked to hear, the “children” sit, even though most of them are hardly children anymore), nor will the men who are watching said commentary. Now the women, the mothers, they’ll help me with both. But they are the very ones I don’t want helping me because they are the very ones who have years and years of family caretaking behind them and enough is enough is enough already. Be a diva for weekend, I say! Just get to the reunion I say, to my mother and her sisters. Just have coffee with me in the mornings. Just steal away with me to the “bird porch” (a tiny screened area from which we view the birds (or squirrels, as the case may be) at the feeders. Otherwise, just sit, and enjoy the fruits of untold and uncelebrated labor, of having nurtured our family, in all of its versions over the years, so well that we choose to travel far to see one another in the summer. Sit with me in the Adirondack chairs (that my son and I repainted this week, I’d like to add) and have iced coffee, or in the rocking chairs and have iced tea, or stand with me in a hallway where a spontaneous conversation just sort of erupts. I am fed by the time with the women who have braided our family ties and I want to have more of it this time. So bagels and fruit for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch (potato salad already made) and crockpot meals or spaghetti (with pre-packaged salad; sauce already made) for dinners. And let’s sit here together, mothers all, and talk.