My family is pretty small. There is barely anyone alive now on my father’s side in Scotland and my mother’s side is scattered all over the world, so I grew up knowing very few of my relatives. My husband David’s family is huge on his mother’s side as she descended from a set of eight siblings who all had quite a few children. When we first got serious, he was due to attend a family reunion and he invited me to join him. I was a bit overwhelmed when we arrived at the reunion and I had to meet the 80 of his relatives who were at the reunion. (They were just the 80 who could attend – there were were even more out there who couldn’t be there!) I am proud to say that I passed the test given to all reunion first-timers (except the babies) by memorizing every one of the participants’ names by the end of the weekend.
Today, well over a decade since my first reunion, we visited with several of David’s relatives who live in the Bay Area at the home of Etty, one of David’s mother’s cousins. We picked up Jimmy, a sharp but kind-hearted lawyer, is in his eighties and still works as a private defense attorney although he recently suffered a stroke. We drove with him to Etty’s house where we greeted by Etty, her daughter Jill and her cousin Carole. I have chatted with Jill at almost every reunion – she is retired now but worked for years as an English language teacher in schools and as a yoga teacher – both interests that are a large part of my world – and now she is mad about lindy hop dancing. Carole is also retired from her work in high schools managing student funds and is enjoying hobbies including bridge with friends and traveling. Etty welcomed us warmly into her lovely home, an elegant bungalow decorated with an eclectic mix of Israeli weavings, prints and paintings, and photographs of the family. I brought Etty some rose tea I had recently bought at the Huntington but also a tin of Japanese tea that I had never opened because I drink very little caffeine these days. Fortunately Etty is fine with caffeine. Later we tasted some of the tea together and she told me that she enjoyed its flavor.
After the evening had ended we all agreed that even though large reunions can be fun, that this small one was more enjoyable in a way because it was more intimate and a chance to get to know each other a bit better. It certainly was a very warm evening – as warm as a cup of tea… I felt closer to each of them as we chatted in the kitchen or around the table. Even our son Theo seemed to enjoy himself. And I’ll be tomorrow morning he will be able to remember all four of their names!