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Entries in family (2)


long weekend in washington

There were so many "best parts" about being reunited with my family that it's hard to decide which one really wins... There were the ear-piercing shrieks when I entered the living room (they did not expect me to make the 8+ hour plane and car trek to Washington from Tennessee), meeting my aunt's husband and kids for the first time (they've been married ten years, people), seeing my uncle and his wife after eight years, dancing with one and all (from an adorable two-year old to my even more adorable grandmother), laughing--both horrified and delighted--at seeing my husband pull his Gangnam Style moves all across the living room floor... The list is endless.

What happens when one is away from family for so long is a burgeoning appreciation--how wonderful it feels to bask in familial love, something that is easily taken for granted when readily available. These are the people who shaped me--my eating habits (dessert for breakfast, but of course! not one child was told to minimize their sugar intake, how refreshing), my sense of humor (belly laugh at something just slightly funny, not being able to finish one's joke because the giggles have already taken over), my weaknesses (over an hour spent in a single shop--my aunts and grandmother are retail Olympians). Many of my quirks, so different from my husband's, explained in a single weekend.

I can't wait till I am able to once again pull up a chair next to Michael, lean my elbows on the table, and listen to the multiple casual conversations swirling around me. Someone will tease Michael, and he'll dish it right back (one my very favorite things is how he just jumps in a family joke--even my grandmother commented on this), people will start laughing--even if they missed the punchline--simply because it's infectious, and I'll sigh as I lose my internal struggle and steal another slice of cake from the middle of the table. So simple, but such a joy.


what we learn from our grandmothers

This past weekend, I had many an adventure with family in San Francisco, but it was the time I spent with Mommy (as we call my grandmother) that got me thinking. I am blessed to have three wonderful grandmothers, Teresita, Pita, and now Karen (Michael’s grandma,) whom I have learned so much from. While the three are all very different, the love and care that they envelop us grandchildren in is so very special. I can only hope to be as gracious and lovely (and loved!) as they are one day.


Always be mindful of the comfort of others.
A gift that all of the grandmothers have is the ability to get everyone settled and happy. They make sure you’re warm and well fed. I love their little pats on the shoulder followed by, “Are you hungry? Do you want anything?” Such little questions said with care. They’re the first to make sure that you have all of the pillows and blankets you need, that what you want is in the cupboard, that you get some little essential you’d been missing from your wardrobe (often without you even knowing it was an essential).

Pay attention when people talk. Listen and remember.

It’s funny that the elderly are said to have a faulty memory. While they do get a bit absent-minded sometimes, I find that they remember what matters. Mommy has seven children, many with spouses, and seventeen grandchildren yet she somehow remembers their shoe sizes—and if she doesn’t, she at least remembers to list them all down in her wallet. A passing comment my uncle makes about craving for something (see, even I don’t remember what it was!) is immediately purchased in the grocery store the following day. Being at the receiving end of such attention would make anyone feel important.

Learn a signature dish and make it well.
All of the grandmothers cook. I do not. There, I’ve said it. So no, it is not within my capability to whip up an entire Thanksgiving feast like Grandma Karen. But I remember seeing Michael’s look of excited anticipation when the words “banana cream pie” are announced, and I know how thrilled I am by the words “cornburger” (trust me—soooo good) and “patatas a la duquesa.” Since I don’t expect to turn into Julia Child, I will settle for a few tried-and-true dishes that the future kids and grandkids will hopefully be excited about. There’s a reason why families come together over meals. Memories were made over some of those dishes.

Take care of your possessions.
The grandmothers have homes that are comfortable and lovingly maintained. There’s a sense of permanence in their homes because aside from some decorative tweaks every now and then, theirs usually stay the same for years. When you give it more thought, it’s amazing really, how the furniture and knick-knacks survive the wear and tear caused by a large family. Their homes don’t age because they care for what they own. Their watchful eyes wipe down sinks after every use, get rid of water marks, and pick up crumbs left by grandchildren. Because they love their home, their guests feel loved in it as well.

My grandmother laughs at everything including herself. A misunderstood word (and there are a lot of those) can send her into gales of infectuous laughter. Before long, everyone is laughing along with her. Since she pokes fun at herself and is a good sport, she is so much fun to be around. Wouldn’t you want to be someone who other people always associated with happiness?

On a final note, this weekend I realized that some of my quirks can be traced back to Mommy, namely…
It is perfectly acceptable to have cookies for breakfast. (On the very first morning, I was offered muffins, Oreos, and chocolate chip cookies. My husband laughs when I carry cookies in a paper towel with me to the car when we run errands on weekend mornings. Now I know who to blame.)

Don’t be wasteful with food. (If it’s been on the floor for less than five seconds, by all means, just go ahead and eat it.)

No matter how full you are, your body just naturally makes room for dessert. (We have dessert with every meal, breakfast included.)

Big or small, isn’t how we are shaped by our family just fascinating?