Have I mentioned that a few members of my extended family will be staying with us for the long weekend? A few meaning about 10,000. At least that's the way it probably seems to some people. And I'm not talking about me--really, I'm not. Here's the thing: my middle sister, the Dump, has been seeing a man for almost a year now, and, because they live in California, he hasn't met any of her family other than her sons. So a few months ago, she asked if she could bring him up to meet us. Sure, we said, come on up.
Well, in our family, this kind of thing tends to snowball. When he signed up, he thought he was flying to Washington to meet a couple of sisters and a brother-in-law. But WRONG! First a niece decided to come with her mother, then another with her husband. I invited my older brother and local family to join us as well--I mean, why not, after all. He might as well get the whole picture. It's important to understand that this is a man who was an only child of older parents. He doesn't have any extended family. I'm quite certain he won't know what hit him. And I'm even more certain he'll likely to think the 17 of us are more like 17,000. Poor man. He asked the Dump if we ever interrupt each other in conversation. "Of course!" she told him. I'm pretty sure she was trying not to laugh. Yep, that's a man who wasn't raised with five brothers and sisters. Really, poor man.
So we'll gather, beginning tonight when Beve and I drive down to Seattle to pick the Dump, her man-friend and her son (who wanted to be here to see what the aunts think of the man...whatever that means). And by the time Sunday rolls around, and we're 17 at our table, which is only part of our large rollicking family, we'll have had plenty of chance to scare Dump's man.
Among us will be Christians, agnostics and atheists. The devout and the irreverent. The earnest and the sarcastic. Most of us are talkers (though I'm close to the top of the list), and all of us are opinionated (a couple pretend not to be...but I won't name names). But when we break bread together, all those differences--the shallow ones and the cell-deep ones--don't matter. They're my people and I love them. The agnostics and atheists as well as the believers. Just as much. And I pray for them all, for the devout as often as for the irreverent (and I'm in both categories myself as well).
In the interest of total disclosure, I sometimes can't stand my family. My siblings can make me as crazy as few other people on this earth, which isn't surprising. After all, they've had a whole lot longer to perfect the skill. When we're around each other too long, we tend to revert to certain childlike behaviors toward each other. Bickering and quibbling, for example. But, when the chips are down, they are my people. And I'd go to the mat for them, metaphorically.
Yep, these are my people and they're coming to my house. We will talk and play and be together, and hopefully, welcome this new man into our midst with grace. I'll let you know how it goes--on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend. Full of grace and mercy.