“Is Dad gone helping with his brother’s campaign again??” my children moaned yet again around the dinner table last month during Utah’s primary election season.
“Yes!! And would that you should all be so lucky as to have brothers and sisters as dedicated and loyal as your father’s family is to each other!!”
They could tell I was working up to my soapbox and starting digging into their plates, hoping to be excused sooner rather than later. But this whole family thing is a big deal to me. I so desperately want my children to grow up as friends.
“You think your uncle’s best friend from the third grade has put his job on hold to fly out and is pounding the pavement right now, day after day, hanging up door knockers? Do you think his high school prom date is on the phone for hours every night calling undecided voters? Or do you think the kids from his childhood neighborhood are the ones tirelessly promoting Town Hall events all for free? No. It’s his FAMILY. That’s who comes through for you at the end of day.”
Oh no, she’s on a roll.
“When we had Baby Jane last year, who showed up the very next day with meals for the week? YOUR AUNT. Who brought in a huge box of diapers and a load of groceries for the next week? ANOTHER AUNT! Who helped us move? Who babysat you when I went to the hospital? Who would drop everything if there were an emergency to come and rescue you? Is it the girl I though was so popular and pretty in the sixth grade that I tried to act, dress and talk just like her? Is it the boy I had a crush on in the fifth grade and circled his yearbook picture with a big heart? Is that who is helping us through the good times and the bad? No. It’s FAMILY.”
Do you suppose she is going to make dessert contingent upon us listening to her little speech and nodding in agreement? Just nod and smile, guys. Nod and smile.
“Look around this table kids. Take a good look. These are the people that are going to help you through life. Even long after Dad and I are gone. And life is a lot more fun when you get along and are best friends with these people. That’s why Dad and I want so much for you all to spend time together, working, laughing and playing together.”
Oh no, what’s she doing now?
I had to illustrate my point so I found the scene in the middle of Gone With The Wind during Scarlet O’Hara’s stirring speech when she digs up that paltry carrot after finally making it home to her beloved Tara which was left desolate and bereft of hope. “As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. NO, NOR ANY OF MY FOLK!” “Stop tape!”I hollered.
“See kids, even though she stole and married her sister’s boyfriend out of petty jealousy…twice, and does her fair share of stirring the pot, she still looks out for family! As selfish as she is, at the end of the day, she will lie, cheat and steal so she won’t go hungry, NO, NOR ANY OF HER FOLK. ‘It’s family, Katie Scarlet!’ I declared in my most pathetic Irish accent. ‘Family’s the only thing that lasts!'” (I know the line is land is the only thing that lasts, but that didn’t really fit in with my theme. Besides, land’s an entirely different soapbox.)
“Can we have dessert now?”
“Sure, as long as you realize the importance of family and eat it and enjoy it together.” I said with a serene smile.
“Sure, Mom. Just make sure I get the biggest piece!!”