Friday, December 01, 2006

The Four Families

I can’t seem to get tradition off the brain lately. When I was young I never thought I’d be one for tradition, though I enjoyed the elements without really realizing what they were at the time. I think I saw tradition as a rut, something to avoid more than something to embrace. As I grew older and became a parent myself, as you’ve read, I learned to love what our family is about.

My great-grandparents had four children - Joe, Charlie, Jeannie and Shirley. These people are now The Heads of the Four Families, families of Zanones, Fachinis and Hollahans. Among them they’ve bred and raised a legion of kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. Every year the Heads of the Four Families get together for a Christmas feast at the home of one of the siblings. It rotates from year to year. This has become their tradition. This year, they are in Memphis and I would love to be a part of that dinner, but, alas, I’m not invited. No kids are. No grandkids. No great-grandkids. No one is even sure what they discuss at these dinners, whether it’s the best way to get their fortunes safely into offshore banks, what new land acquisitions were made the previous year or who needs to be “dealt with.” But most probably they talk about us. Not me, particularly, but their offspring and their offspring’s offspring and their offspring’s offspring’s offspring. And they laugh at us. I know they do. I would. It is our God given right, as parents, to laugh at the little people we produce and to laugh at them for as long as we feel is appropriate. My sister and her husband live nearby and our tradition is, and has been for years, dinner together on Thursday night. When we get together we laugh at The Quartet, our four little jesters, and I know this will never change because they are funny and we are just a little bit cruel.

So tonight The Heads of the Four Families are having a feast over at Aunt Jeannie’s house and they’re reminiscing about their very long lives and discussing investments and, knowing them, sharing cooking tips. But they’re also laughing. Laughing and enjoying each other’s company, which I think is great and the most wonderful tradition of all, even though much of that laughter, I’m sure, is at our expense.