Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Being Friends With Family

How do I avoid housework? Well, I blog of course. I have company coming this weekend. My brother, sister-in-law (or sista' from another mother), my two beautelligent nieces, and their giant yellow lab. The weather and gas prices are conspiring against us, but we're all looking forward to an insane weekend together. My house is small, but just like my mother and my grandmother before her, the walls of our home just seem to expand as family walks through the front door. And, I guess if we can't go south this time of year we can at least plan some distractions. Maybe I can set up a spring cleaning  party and put everyone to work.

I consider myself lucky that my brother and I are so close. For a long time there wasn't just five years, but a couple provinces between us. Now, even though we're five hours away (four in an emergency) staying connected is much easier. He was such a brat as a kid. I can't believe we're friends now. When my little brother was too short to see over the corn stalks, I led him out into the big corn field beside our house and left him there. I was probably tired of hearing him make siren noises. I got a lot of reading done in that old apple tree before Mom came out to hang laundry and heard him.  Undoubtedly he was easily located because he had on his bright red fire helmet, with rotating red light and built in siren. I swear he didn't take that thing off for two years. Once a firefighter, always a firefighter. (Can you imagine knowing, with absolute certainty, when you are two years old what you will be when you grow up?) Now we talk on the phone almost every day. It's a great way to share a cup of long-distance coffee and parenting stories/nightmares, while avoiding housework. Are you starting to see a pattern in the avoidance thing?

We try to get our kids together as much as possible too. After all, some of my closest friends are the crazy cousins I grew up with. A lot of my best childhood memories are of hanging around with them. Sleepovers, family reunions, swimming, riding bikes, tobogganing, camping. There was nothing better than a visit from an uncle, aunt and cousins who lived on the other side of the country. Days were marked off on the calendar until their arrival. Back then there was no Internet, or long-distance phone plans. It was letters, visits or nothing. And family reunions were quite the production, given that I have around 100 relatives on my mother's side of the family. (Remember I mentioned our family anomoly, homes with expanding walls?) But the best part of the reunion happened a couple of days later when we got to see our names in the local paper. Grammie/Nana/Gam Gam/Gram/Granny/Mom would list absolutely everyone who came. God bless her. After raising eleven kids she deserved to brag.

Tonight, I'm going out for dinner with a cousin I spent most of my childhood with. We haven't seen each other since Christmas. There's nothing like that relaxed, comfortable feeling of hanging out with someone who's known you forever. It really doesn't matter how long we've been apart we just pick up where we left off. When I get home I'll probably call another cousin to chat. As kids, this particular cousin convinced me peony flowers are poisonous, and will kill ya dead if ya touch 'em. ( I believed that for years.) Then, when I get up in the morning, there will only be a couple of hours until my brother and his family arrive. I'll pass the time with the kids. There's a good chance when I sit down to have coffee Mom will call. I guess I better get that housework done. I have to get groceries too. What do you think? Should I pick up a big feed of corn for my little bro' this weekend?

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