Around The Table

| January 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Having a December birthday means I do not have to speak out loud my newest age until the last two weeks of the year. Well now it’s January and the birthday has come and gone. It’s not a milestone birthday, but I am at an age where all birthdays are significant. To mark another year passing without any illness or other catastrophes I decided to give myself a birthday party. I invited the most important people in my life, my family.

My two grown kids were there with their kids and my sister as well. There were ten of us around the dinner table, but to me it looked like a small group. I harkened back to when I was a younger woman and what the table looked like, before deaths, before divorces, before moves. The family seemed so much bigger then. My parents were both alive, as was my husband, and my siblings were still married with kids of their own. There were a total of thirteen of us, only three more than the ten we are now, but it seemed so much bigger to me. I wondered why.

Back then I was the middle generation, with parents much older than I and children much younger. It must have given me a different perspective. I was old enough to have kids of my own and young enough to have parents who were still healthy and vital. This got me thinking about shifts in attitudes about family. As I looked at my two teenage grandchildren I couldn’t help but think about how I felt being with my grandparents when I was a teen. I loved it then or at least my memory tells me that. But memory plays tricks on us.
I think we hold on to memories that are positive and push the bad ones back. I mean really, were my grandparents that much fun to be with or is it a way of embellishing the past? If I am really truthful with myself, I must admit what I liked best about being with them is how much they loved being with me. This holds true for me now but roles have reversed.

I love being with the grandkids and think they can do no wrong, exactly how my grandparents felt about all their grandkids. When my sons are annoyed by something I say, I realize how I felt as a grownup when my mom tried to give me her take on something I was doing, and how much that annoyed me. My perspective on family relationships has shifted from being a grandchild to being a parent to now being the “gramma” myself.

A few years ago I purchased a round dining table large enough to seat ten and it has been a wonderful way to interact. There is no head of the table, no sides where people can really only chat with who’s seated next to them. No, at this table there is an equal opportunity to see and hear everyone else. I watched this group closely at my birthday dinner.

It was a lovely sight to behold. The little kids were talking to the teens, one son got up with a platter of food and went around the table serving everyone, and my sister seated next to her caregiver felt a part of it all because her wheelchair could fit right up to the table where she could feel as much a part of the dinner as anyone.

That night it hit me that I was the head of the family, the oldest one, the mother, sister and grandmother. I was it. That night the combination of turning another year older and celebrating with my family drove home the value of living in the moment, especially when I know that as the years go on and things change, as they do, my perspective will have to change too.

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