Anyone who knows me knows that I’m very close to my family. My mother, sister, bro-in-law, cousin, his wife and my nieces and nephews are my family. My close friends are my family. I have tons of relatives and know tons of people but I only consider few my real family. Why? Because I’m loyal and only show every side of me to a few people who are always there for me. That’s how I was. But not anymore really. You see, over the past few years I reconnected with most of the family on my mother’s side through Facebook. Cousins I hadn’t seen or heard from in years. I’m Italian so I have like 80,000 cousins. Seriously. My cousins had kids. More cousins. They had kids. More cousins. Cousins I hadn’t even met. So many damn cousins!!! After catching up through Facebook, I took it upon myself to go even one step further. I took a chance and decided to put together a family reunion. I thought it would be great for my mother to see all of her nieces/nephews, great nieces/nephews and great-great nieces/nephews. I thought it would be nice for my nieces and nephew to meet cousins they had never met in their entire lives. And I thought it would be pretty cool for my sister and I as grown adults to catch up with the cousins we grew up with. It took 5 months to plan. All the cousins said they were in. My mother was super excited. Then the day finally arrived this past Summer. It was on.
I had no idea how the reunion would go down. It was a long time since we were all together. After my grandparents passed away it was about 15 years since the original 8 grandkids/cousins had all been together. We all just drifted apart. I didn’t think everyone would show up. But they did. And so didn’t their kids. And so didn’t the kids of the ones who had kids. There were 4 generations of us. About 35 cousins. Who knew what type of shit would go down?! Would there be arguments? Would there be fist fights?? Would someone get stabbed??? None of us knew what we were getting into! But you know what happened? Nothing but a good time. We all smiled the whole damn day. We hugged. We kissed. We laughed. We cried. No one stopped smiling. We took so many damn pictures. Little kid cousins came up to me “You’re the crazy cousin who lives in Boston and writes right?” “Yeah. That’s me.” I said. I made sure to go up to each and every one of my cousins and catch up. Or introduce myself. Or reintroduce myself. Find out a little bit about who they had become. That was goal #1. Goal #2? To have a shot together with all my cousins! I pulled out the SoCo and lime and handed shots out to all those who could legally drink with their crazy cousin T and even a few to those who were almost legal. We put up our shot glasses and toasted “TO FAMILY!” as the cameras went off. That day was all about family.
After tons of eating, tons of drinking and tons of pictures, I found myself talking to my cousins who I used to play with as a little kid. Lots of “Damn. You were so fresh as a kid. Who would’ve thought you would turn out like this as a man?” I felt that in my heart. A few other heavy moments as we talked about our grandparents and our aunt/my godmother/my mother’s sister who passed away too soon. How we all used to get a ‘buck’ apiece from Papa before we left the house. And how Nana would always be in the kitchen cooking. And how Auntie used to laugh and spoil us all. And of course how great the holidays used to be when we were all together. My mother had a great day. My sister enjoyed herself. And my nieces and nephew played with their cousins and swam in the pool like I did as a kid. That day was one of my best days of 2011. It was one of the best days of my life. These people, my family will always be the link to my past. My early days where at times we didn’t have much but always had each other. I was humbled that day. We all were. And we all promised to do it again every year. Family is everything. Immediate. And extended. You are nothing without them. I’m thankful for my family. More than most of them will ever know.
Until next time. Always take it there.