Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is the way we do... Family Get Togethers

My title depicts such a peaceful and calm event. You are probably immediately thrust into a world of reflective nostalgia just by reading my title. You may even feel a bit cozy and warm inside. If so, come to a Nelson Family Get Together and experience something you may not experience with any other family. Peaceful and calm are the definition of what's not at our gatherings.

It ALWAYS goes like this...

After months and even years of not seeing each other, new babies being born, going for weeks of only poor mail communication, rarely experiencing the togetherness of your entire family walking on the same continent at once and enduring months of sickness and trial while separated from the rest of the family, you'd think we'd all be gushy, warm and tickled pink. Not so.

The guys delve into hefty church topics, sort the world's problems and figure out what's wrong with their jobs and the ladies jump into wild shopping trips and unimaginable sewing flings. The kind of sewing that produces a new dress for every female family member by the following Sunday.

The kids? They are here and there and everywhere. Considering the Nelson family is doing a fine job repopulating the earth, we are in our 8th year of reproduction and so far have 11 children 8 and under. That includes 2 new uncles as well. What noise future children lack in now, the current bunch more than compensates for.

We are a colorful family that has members of Haitian, Mexican and Wisconsin ancestry. Plus the usual German and Norwegian here and there.

Eventually during a typical evening, a dad or two will be sprawled on the floor or a couch sound asleep, a grandpa on the computer, another dad reading a book and another dad wondering when his wife is ready to go home. A baby or two will be screaming, the 8 year olds will be trying to stay away from the 4 and 3 year olds and the 2 year olds will by crying for the toys the 8 year olds have. The 6 year old will come up with a gotta-do-it-right-now art project involving lots of paper, a pair of scissors and a handful of crayons. The 4, 3 and 2 year olds will be climbing on, over, under and around the table the 6 year old is designing art. The 8 year olds will suddenly race through the entire maze of children and out the front door to go watch the noisy train and suddenly the whole flock of children will stampede out the room, tripping, falling and pinching themselves through the door. The said dads will remain sleeping, the said grandpa will continue the computer and the other dad will scratch his head and look for his wife.

The wives will be discussing the family reunion. While coming from all parts of the earth (or so it seems), the art of planning the annual, First Ever Family Reunion is a task that should really only be expected from those who have received a degree in such matters. Combine all the criteria with the fact that it is rare, almost entirely completely unexpected that we'll all be on the same continent again in the near future. So, this needs to be a well planned reunion filled with quality time.

Did anyone see the two year old come out of the bathroom yet? And who's kid stinks this time?

So, I get the box of popsicles out while assuring all the sugar concerned parents that these popsicles indeed are made with natural juice and contain no sugar or dyes. Suddenly, I am swarmed by children like a hive is swarmed with bees. I come to find later that in the haste of reading the ingredients label, I miss the fourth ingredient which is composed of a sugar defining ingredient. But, for now, I am only trying to stay standing in the swarm of children at my feet.

He wants his popsicle to match his. She wants a popsicle that's yellow. He wants a popsicle just like hers. And she can't have one tonight since she didn't finish supper. A child that is not mine is pulling on my skirt saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy...." while his parents are yelling across the room that he is supposed to say please. 4 other kids are sitting around the table asking for their popsicle and a little 18mo. old is down by my feet signing "please" in an attempt to get his own popsicle. A dad is sitting across the room on a couch feeling dejected and wondering why I didn't give him one yet, as if I intentionally kept him from having one. "Can I have one please?" continues to circle around the table while I quickly rip open packages of popsicles before being completely stampeded by the flock of children. And bear in mind the box of popsicles has only been out of the freezer for 45 seconds.

Finally, all the children have their popsicles at last and as the noise dies down, a thoughtful aunt sitting in the living room offers to help me. She probably didn't offer to help until then because she knew I wouldn't be able to hear her anyway. That was so thoughtful of her but unfortunately, I had to turn her offer to help down considering the herd of kiddos was quietly and contentedly corralled with the popsicles.

When the rounds of "Can I have another one?" began, hails and shouts of "NO MORE!" came sailing from the living room back to the popsicle craving children. Being obedient children, they all rambunctiously jumped away from the table and dispersed to all ends of the house in a cloud of popsicle wrappers and sticks.

And so ended another Nelson Family Get Together night. The dads relaxed peacefully on couches until the time came to leave and the mothers despaired over another evening spent without concluding the plans for the upcoming family reunion.

I just remind myself in the hubbub of activity that 10 years from now, we'll have two 18 year olds, a 16 year old, a 14 year old, two 13 year olds, two 12 year olds, an 11 year old, two 10 year olds and a 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 year old and a baby or two, at least. And when we're on the same continent 10 years from now, it'll be a whole lot more interesting than an evening eating popsicles and figuring out family reunions; it'll be a busy evening spent conversing with children turned adults.

The innocence and simple excitement of youth is precious and one I hope none of the littles in our family grow out of. Then again, I think that the Nelson Family Get Togethers have enough excitement in them to keep even the oldest of us young.

If I do say so myself, we look like a normal and civilized family afterall! Even the little guy in the front knows how to do a picture in style.... or does he?


BrittLeigh said...

yiiii-yi-yiiiii! Wow.

And then the "Otterson" Family Get Togethers... I love how we just won't go there--in the literary sense, not the physical of course. :)

I love the picture, 'specially that nephew-of-mine there in the front...... I didn't teach him that, did I???!!! :)

Jean said...

Good luck 10 years from now getting all that grown up conversation - Ha! I don't think you know teenagers very well.

Vicky said...

The Wisconsin part made me laugh :o)
Born and raised here, yes-sirree! Your get-together sounds like ours (9 kids with 15-and-counting grandkids) - makes for one loud, busy place!
Happy New Year! :o)