Monday! Here is this week’s column, all about how the dialogue in our house is weirder (and funnier) than an episode of 30 Rock.
The column is a good incentive for the blog , so people don’t show up here every Monday and think I’m a slacker. It’s been a crazy-hectic summer: at my day job we’re gearing up to host an international conference, and in all my copious spare time I oversee a quarterly sports magazine that goes to print next Monday. I was down a writer this time and had to do more stories myself, so I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a few weeks now.
But this Saturday I got to relax at a big gathering of the Lucas clan. One of my cousins is home from Toronto so we had a family barbecue at my brother’s place.
I have a huge extended family. My father grew up in a family of nine kids, which means I have a whole lot of cousins – 15 on the Lucas side. Most are still in Nova Scotia though a few live in Ontario.
It’s a rare and amazing occasion when we can all get together. It usually only happens for a wedding or a funeral. There were a few people missing on Saturday, but we still had representation from most branches of the Lucas family tree. My brother counted 38 of us altogether over the course of the afternoon.
I’ve always loved family barbecues. I loved to run around with my cousins and eat way too much sugar and listen to my uncles rag on each other. Dad’s brothers are hilarious when they’re all together. It was always the same conversations—baseball, bragging and possibly BS’ing about golf scores, and somebody commenting on how tall I was growing.
I think of these gatherings every time I read my kids The Party, one of the all-time great picture books.
Many things are still the same—my uncles still spent a while on Saturday arguing over the rules of washer toss—but things have changed as well. Now my cousins and I are the ones sitting around with beers in hand, catching up on life, cracking jokes and watching our kids chase each other. There were 12 of them running around on Saturday, none older than age eight. Between us we had five born in 2009 alone, not including Maliah, who was born in 2008 but joined our family in July ’09.
It was a joy watching my kids play with their cousins. They ran around shirtless and yelled themselves hoarse and ate an enormous amount of sugar. They chucked water balloons (mostly at us) and declared certain parts of the yard to be their territory. They got along amazingly—in five hours, with 12 kids, there was not one major meltdown or fight that needed breaking up.
At one point Xander, my oldest, was standing in the back of my brother’s truck shouting orders at all the other boys. One of my aunts started laughing.
“My goodness,” she said, “He’s just like a little Chad.” She looked at me. “That was you, always making the plans and organizing everyone.”
I guess some things don’t change that much. They just get passed on from generation to generation.