We trekked a couple hours away to attend my grandfather’s 75th birthday party last weekend. It’s so wonderful to have some guarantees in being a part of this family. For one, there will most definitely always be food there. (Don’t even think about eating beforehand and don’t bother to bring anything…you will be fed and fed again. It’s one of the love languages of this family!) I can also pretty much be certain that my grandmother will be wearing the same colors as her twin, though they never actually plan on it. Most people in the room have multiple names they answer to…and we all know the different names and don’t bother to alter our personal preferences. My grandmother, who is “Nana” to me is also “Shorty”, “Cil”, and the most bizarre, “Mungaw”. It’s like having our own family language.
There will also be lots and lots of loving teasing and sarcasm that, to an outsider, may appear as gruffness or insensitivity. But for us, it’s yet another weird love language. And it doesn’t ever get tiring. It’s a comfort. And truthfully, every single one is pure mush inside! No one is actually gruff…and smothering hugs abound. (And did I mention there will always be tons of food?)
The grandkids, of which I am one, have grown and now have our own kids. The elders just never seem to age in my eyes. I suppose that’s because the spirit in the room is so young and fun and playfully mischievous.
We’ve shared times of mourning and joy, funerals and weddings and baby showers…financial tragedy, the brokenness of divorce…celebrated the latest achievements from holding up that 3-month old head to making the team to starting a new business. My Nana still won’t let me ever make any food in her kitchen. She’s 70, and still loves to be “Nana” to this 30-year-old. And this 30-year-old mama still loves being the grandkid! The consistency and the comfort makes me smile.
And, even more amazing to me is that it doesn’t matter who is a “step” or a “first” or “second” or “third” cousin or who is “married-in”. It just doesn’t matter. We can all list who’s the Type A in the crowd (you know who you are too!)…who’s the chilled type…and somehow it flows. Somehow, it works. (No, I didn’t say it works perfectly!) But it works and it’s a comfort.
The Lord knows my personality…He created it after all! And since I naturally bend towards over-seriousness, what a gift it is to have a roomful of people to keep me balanced, to help me relax, to mercilessly tease me and help draw out my inner “crazy”. He knew what I needed and through so many varying circumstances, He’s crafted this family for me, and for that “step” and “second cousin” and “Papa” and “Granny” and “Mungaw”.
So at least for my crazy family, there are a few guarantees: food and lots of it, strange and multiple names for everyone in the room, teasing and hugging, laughter and open arms…and those hilarious, matching twins!