My Auntie Kathy peeks over her shoulder after saying something dumb to see if I heard her. Of course I did, so I make a snarky comment about her. She’s my favorite target and she knows it. My Uncle Steve is in a deep conversation with my brother about how exactly a vape works. My Goddaughter is involved in no less than 15 different conversations. My daughter Meghan walks up the driveway arriving at her Grandparents cookout after working at the bakery up the street. Her first job, which I’m sure the bakery loves because she hasn’t had a shift without at least two family members visit. Their sales will be through the roof, a smart hire by them. My beautiful niece pretends to sneeze while she sprays you from her favorite water bottle, laughing each time like it’s the funniest thing she’s ever done. My Aunt Annie and my wife are discussing her extensive jewelry collection, pricing everything out and making sure all the expensive ones are claimed for some day very far in the future. My Dad is being my Dad, cooking, and cleaning, and cleaning. And, always asking everyone if they liked whatever dish my Mom prepared. He never ever takes credit for a meal without mentioning how it was his wife, my mom, who filled up the jug of water. He’s incredibly unselfish. My cousin Katie sits quietly hoping that her boyfriend doesn’t say anything dumb and watch her three older cousins crush him for it, or maybe, and I hope this is true, she hopes he does say something dumb and see how he gets out of it. My Mom sits and laughs, with a beer in hand, at all the chaos all around her. Kids fighting over toys, her oldest son trying to make sure he’s the center of attention with his next trick or dumb joke he’s playing on his goddaughter.
My Dad cooks for a family of 200, even though there was maybe 15 of us. He cooks special pasta and plain chicken with every meal for his gang of girl grandchildren, because, god forbid they have to eat the delicious meal him and Mom have prepared for us. I remember sitting at the damn dinner table until I finished my peas, and now the new generation gets to dictate the meals. It’s infuriatingly perfect…
It’s absolute chaos at my parent’s house on as many Sundays as possible. For most of the week it’s getting a little bit quieter. They have their routines and I’m sure they like a bit of that quiet, but I know, it’s Sunday madness that they love. They both grew up in large families, chaos and madness I’m sure was the norm. The dinner table never filled with just a few of them.
Every Friday, or Saturday if they fell asleep during a taped Chronicle, I get a text with the Sunday menu, who’s birthday we are celebrating, with a note saying, “I know you have XYZ on Sunday, but whoever is around is welcome”. The funny part is, I always reply, but I know if I didn’t and we just showed up at 4 pm on Sunday my parents would have defrosted enough or made sure they still cooked that 30 lb. turkey just in case the military stopped by and needed a meal.
There’s a little letdown feeling on a normal Sunday if my little niece Alice is busy and not stopping over. She’s loud and crazy and a perfect fit for our family. The tears and screaming and fighting for whatever toy she wants perfectly echoes off the walls and the rest of us just raise our voices and try to remind others about the time my brother Colin yelled about not being able to have a little of the food my parents packed for me, their first born, on his first trip to college.
See, the little temper tantrums thrown by that little lunatic are only loud to her Mom and Dad, who panic and forget that most of us in that room have heard all those sounds before and honestly, miss it a little bit. See, that little voice, for me, reminds me of my little girl’s voices. Who, aren’t so little anymore. Who now watch scary murder Netflix shows with their Mom and Dad and talk about driving a real car… It goes too fast, so fast you miss the screaming, the diaper changing, fighting over putting on pajamas, and all the other little things that happen so slow in the moment, but so so so fast in this world.
So, on a random Sunday, you can find me at my Parents house. I hope your house is built just like my parents is. I love sitting at that dining room table, fighting for that little bit of elbow room, switching the seat you have sat in for years because one of those beautiful little girls decides today it’s time to switch seats. Spilled drinks, food on every inch of the table, my youngest daughter asking for a Tide stick to clean her newest shirt from the sauce she got on it. It’s madness, and I’m enjoying the hell out of whatever chaos is happening right in front me. Life is perfect…