Rejoice with your family in this beautiful land of life.
– Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
When couples have children, they often move back home or closer to home to be near their parents. Luckily, at the time we had children, David and I already lived near our families. Both sides were just an hour and a half away. Beyond their immeasurable help with parental advice and support, we understood how important it was to have our children get to know their grandparents. I never met my dad’s parents, who had passed away long before he had even met my mother. And I never felt that I had gotten to know my mother’s parents very well. My kids never met my father, who passed away months before David could meet him. I’m grateful that they were able to know and spend time with my mother. And they have spent family time and know David’s parents well. Especially now that my mother is gone, it’s so important that they – and David and I – spend more time with his family.
You don’t choose who your family is, but if you are lucky, you rejoice in your luck and you take advantage of having a wonderful family by spending time with them and really getting to know and appreciate them, and to be there for them in times of need. You may not always see eye to eye with every sibling or parent, but if both sides are open in heart and mind, you aren’t lucky; you are generous, and you will be rewarded with generosity.
David’s family gets together at Thanksgiving (with the exception of one of his sibling’s family), Christmas, and one weekend in the summer. We switch hosting Thanksgiving with David’s sister, who lives in San Diego. Last year we hosted in El Cerrito and were joined by David’s aunt and uncle and cousin. And then we all congregate in Stockton where David’s parents live for Christmas. The weekend of the Rossi reunion in the summertime, which David’s brother hosts in his family’s hometown of Lemoore, varies because we have to schedule around travel baseball and volleyball tournaments, family vacations, and work. Last year I didn’t make it because of work deadlines. This year it was all about the family.
Lemoore is in the Central Valley of California. It is hot – into triple digits temperature wise. There is not much to do there; but that’s not the point. So long as there is a pool – check – and good food and libations – check, check – it’s all about enjoying one another’s company under the shade and watching the kids swim 24/7. Uncle Pat takes the kids to a movie during the hottest part of the day, and when it’s time to retire for the evening the kids crash on air mattresses in the family room. We had food to feed an army: salmon, tilapia, sausage one night and short ribs and sausage the following night, with plenty of peaches and watermelon – the perfect summer food, in my opinion.
Sunday morning we head to the Black Bear Diner in Hanford, the next town over, for breakfast for our party of 16. We are a force to be reckoned with, given our numbers. Black Bear Diner, where any meal provides you with a week’s worth of your caloric intake, is for those with big eyes and enormous appetites. I try to choose from the “Lite is Less” section of the menu. After we finish breakfast, the summer reunion comes to a close.
This year, my cousin Janet and her husband Tim dropped us off in Lemoore and then picked us up to take us back to the Bay Area, where the temperatures dipped to the 70s. On the way home, I watched the endless stream of cars in both directions on Interstate 5, everyone going home and ending their vacations and holiday. I was sad for a moment, thinking that the long weekend was coming to a close. But then I felt heartened. I made it to the reunion this summer, and while I still can’t handle the heat of the Central Valley, which makes me lethargic, my heart was light, hearing the kids laughing and chattering and splashing in the pool, catching up with David’s family over grilled food. Family matters, especially as the years go by. Take advantage of your luck and be generous with your family.