Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Defining Family

As I sit here trying to decide whether to host a July 4th party and all of the work involved with it, I've been thinking about family and what it means to me.

When I was younger all of our holiday gatherings were family affairs, my parents had a few friends that we would see once in awhile, but for the most part, the summer gatherings were with my Mom's side of the family, having 11 surviving brother's and sisters ensured that we had a pretty large gathering at all times. Even with so many siblings there were only 5-6 of them that regularly showed up, but add in the spouses for each, grandparents, children, etc. and you can begin to see how they were such large gatherings.

It really stopped once my Mom's father passed away. Too many internal fights and disputes seemed to happen and rather then work them out, everyone went their separate ways. To say he was a patriarchal figure would be an understatement. He was the glue that held it all together. I don't know whether it was because of his children's desire to make him happy or his will that kept them in line, but it kept the pettiness that happens with families at bay.

I've thought about trying to pull things together from a family perspective, and have talked with some cousins and my brother about it, but I think it would be a case of the tail trying to wag the dog, my rank doesn't hold here, and even though I may bend the ear of some relatives, the others that I cannot still can hold their grudges.

When I met my wife one of the things she found difficult to deal with was the number of friends I had and how close I was with them, (she still finds it difficult to this day). While I've drifted from some of them and all of us are not as close as we were previously, I still consider them close and very much like siblings. Most of our gatherings nowadays whether hosted by my brother or me involve a large number of the same people.

In thinking about putting together a July 4th party, I've been struggling over the invite list, while I don't mind having a large party, I've found for the last couple of gatherings that getting people to respond can be a chore in itself. The concern I have is planning and purchasing supplies for a potential party, not having an idea of whether you'll have 10 or 30 people is a fairly significant difference, and it's easily achievable if history repeats itself.

Because of this, I've been debating on putting together a small invite list, and then just inviting those that I think may come, which of course then makes me concerned that I may hurt the feelings of others that I don't invite.

I've tried thinking about things like focusing on couples, or those that maybe more interested in a pool party, or a variety of other criteria to try and narrow the list of invitees, but so far I'm having no luck. I don't want to exclude those outside of relationships, but I also don't want to have a situation which happens sometimes where my parties end up with two rather distinct camps of people.

In the end, I think I'm going to just invite everyone, after all they are family, I just can't bring myself to exclude invitees, even though I maybe stuck with a shitload of burgers and hot dogs for no shows or those that don't respond. Now if I can just figure out what day to do it on and time we'll be all set.

No comments: