So, as planned, I'm making time and taking effort to spend more time with my family.
My cousin K and her brother M have daughters that are very close in age (months apart), so this is the season of the Batmitzvah. Their parents (my dad's sister and her husband) are on an around-the-world United ticket to go to all these events. Since K lives in Toronto, I figured, what the hey, I will go! Its a 50min flight! K has twins, so its a double-header celebration.
I flew up on Thursday so that I could participate in all the weekend's events.
Every morning, I was up early with my aunt and uncle. We would make some coffee/tea and breakfast and sit around and chat. It was very nice to have given them this time to get to know me better. As I've said before here (I think), I've gotten to an age where I know who I am, and I know what I know; I know what I'm willing to change/work on; and I know what is intrinsically me. When you are young having conversations like this with your elders, it can be difficult because you feel like you are defending who you are, you feel like you have to claim your specific-ness. It was much more fun to have these conversations at this age, where I can really contribute something to the general trend. We talked about politics, family, work, life, everything.
In the afternoons, we would run errands with K, help her get ready for the 3 big events she had planned:
Shabbat dinner, Kiddush (lunch after service on Sat), celebration lunch with friends and family on Sunday.
I am so impressed with my cousin K. She spends her time running after her 3 kids, keeping her home running, working full time, and if you know here on Facebook, thinking, looking, enjoying the world. When you are with her you find that she does all of this with a serene calm, not flustered by any of the bumps that are inevitably in your way. Not once did she show any stress about these three huge events that she had organized for the weekend.
Friday night dinner was basically prepared by her friends. Throughout the day on Friday, people stopped by with the dishes they had prepared. The brisket and turkey came from a local caterer.
We set a table for 25 people... in a long row of three tables.
The guest list was all family, but 1. K's husband's brother and sister with all their sons, his parents, a cousin and her family, K's parents and me, and a friend. It was a warm, cozy, family evening thick with the traditions of a Shabbat dinner.
Saturday was a big day for the girls, they had prepared speeches to be delivered after the service. We were at Shul for most of the service saying hello to friends and family who came for the celebration. In the middle of the service, the Rabbi called up the Dad and gave him the blessing for the girls. Then the men started dancing, doing a hora right there to celebrate the girls. They were signing the mazeltov song... ok, not quite like that.
After the service, the ladies all moved to the front of the Shul and the girls went up on the bimah to give their speeches. The piece of the Torah that was read that day was about Moses and the plagues, so they talked about what that portion meant to them, and how that related to their recognition as adults. They did a fantastic job. K got up to give a speech too, and it was so special to be there celebrating with them.
We went to the Kiddush, and yikes! there were SO MANY people smooshed into the room, you had to fight your way in to the table, back out, over to the drinks... I just ate everything as quickly as possible so that noone would bump into me while they were fighting their way around.
We made our way back home, for some afternoon rests. K and the girls began the process of beautification for their big party that night with their friends. There was too much to do with two girls, so they asked me to help. We all crammed into K's bathroom with nailpolish, makeup, curling irons, nylons, and excitement. It was really fun to watch these two get ready for one of their first parties, all primped up in their special dresses for the occasion. It was moments like this throughout the weekend that allowed me to see who they were. Just like I had given time with my aunt and uncle, they gave time for me.
After the young'uns went off to whoop it up, my aunt, K, and I went over to the Sunday brunch venue to prep. The venue was the "party room" at K's parents-in-law's condo... so while we were setting tables, laying out plates, setting up sound systems, putting away drinks, K's mom-in-law was helping by running up and down to get those little things that personalize a space.
The Sunday brunch was the last of the big events. It was a mixture of friends and family. I left from the venue for the airport with the Chicago side of the family. Our flights left within an hour of each other.
It was a great weekend! Full of celebration, family, and community. I am very grateful to have finally realized that I can experience my extended family so close to where I live. I can't wait for all the forthcoming experiences we will all have together.