Family Occasions

Yes, family does occasion:

joy, happiness, weddings, births, birthdays, holidays,

and funerals.

Or wakes,

Which, in an Irish-American family, are definitely nothing to sneeze at.

It also occasions:

sending money in ever-increasing lists of emergencies,

having people overnight who somehow appear to be related to great aunt Lavina,

three times removed

by means of uncle Herbert,

who want you to take down “just a small portion” of your fence

so they can park their double-wide RV-

“just for about a week”

while they borrow your car to see San Francisco.

Then there is getting up at 5 am to stuff wet bread down a 35 lb turkey’s gullet

when you’re a vegetarian,

since the entire troup of 16 cousins,

plus wives and kids,

are at your place this year-

minus the twelve who got up at eight, and are now eating corn flakes in the garage,

to avoid the turkey stench-

And the only thing the others are bringing along is bizarre kinds of pies,

like oyster-salmon, yam and chestnut, and pineapple pickle,

plus, of course, the sixteen kinds of cranberry sauce,

jellied, boiled, sugared, raw with citrus,

since the making of cranberries,

at least in our family,

has become a way of proving your skills as a homemaker.

And, it has, over the years, become a vicious competition,

with no one liking anyone else’s cranberries.

Oh, and then, of course, there is the potluck wedding

where you are supposed to make the veg,

and it has to be white,

and it can’t be potato gratin since Laverne is bringing that.

(I settled for wax beans with onion and chick peas, and a hominy salad

with onion and teeny tiny nuked in a kitchen machine bits of red pepper)

And if you have ever eaten a wedding dinner done entirely in white,

including the white fish,


Christenings are always good, though.

People enjoy watching it all,

and afterwards,

everyone plays games and sings

and is, for the most part, happy.

And that is the main thing.

Especially as the babies are usually so exhausted they sleep.

Looking at packages at weddings is also great fun.

There is simply nothing better than trying to understand why someone

would pack a bowling ball to look like a bowling ball to give you a good laugh.

Except perhaps, to try and understand

why they would give a bowling ball in the first place.

Is there a store list for bizarre items,

or do people just save the ones they got for their wedding and hand them on?

Oh, and while we’re on the subject,

graduations are always great.

And simple.

A commemorative piece of jewelry,

and some money, if you have it, since the graduate is hopefully going to college

and will need it,

or is finished with college and looking for a job

and will need it.

Unless the graduate is, of course, a dog.

Who is taking part in a canine commencement ceremony,

black tie and gift from a registry list at a pet store requested.

What you don’t believe me?

I have a picture of a poodle in a mortarboard on top of the bookcase

to prove it.

His “mamma” gave it to me.

His name is Winky.


copyright 2015  All rights reserved.

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