Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 27, 2007
In our family, “happy family” is a code word that refers to the way in which stress can overtake even the most joyous family occasions.
In December 1996 we all gathered in Portland, Oregon for my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday. With our family, a gathering of that size involves not only a large number of people, but also a large number of opinions, most more than a bit larger-than-life.
By the time the Chinese restaurant dinner reception began, feathers had been ruffled all around, over everything from how much my great-uncle should be allowed to drink to where each guest should sit.
Adopting a technique that would serve us well for years to come, we four cousins found a table to the side, away from the direct vision of any impassioned adult in search of affirmation and/or aid (except for the great-uncle, whose stops at our table provided ample opportunity to determine that in the end, no drinks limit had been set for him).
Dishes arrived at our table one by one, as they did for all the guests. But just wait, the waitstaff would tell us as they deposited another. There is a special dish – it is coming.
We ate and ate, with no sign of the special dish but many signs of vexed mothers, aunts, grandparents, and assorted others (and a few too many long speeches).
Finally, when we were stuffed and ready for the meal to be cleared, the special dish arrived.
This is it, the waitress told us, the Happy Family.
I hope we waited til she had gone before bursting into laughter, but my memory is too vague. What I do remember is laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe – as first my father and then other family members came by to see what on earth was so funny.
Happy Family, we gasped – and they laughed too. We are a happy family, poorly timed Chinese dishes aside.
34 years ago today, my parents started our own happy family with a night wedding in Heidelberg Castle.
(link stolen shamelessly from Heidelberg’s tourism website)
Last year my sister and I celebrated the occasion with a theme: “33 things that remind us of you”. The items ranged from a bottle of Piesporter (the wine they drank with my grandparents the night my parents announced their engagement) to lime salt potato chips (my mother) and Jujyfruits (my father).
My sister was in Seattle, but I was there for the occasion and arranged the “33 things” in the lower level living room:
Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad, with love always