Saturday, July 08, 2006

La Famiglia

I missed Five Ingredients Friday again.
Actually, I missed Friday. I have no idea where it went.
As I looked through my recipes at 5 to midnight (I was up, so why not), I was reminded of all the things I'll never have the time or free hands to cook again. This includes anything from vegetable fajitas with papaya salsa to anything in the Death By Chocolate cookbook. A long time ago I had hoped to go to culinary school. Now the closest I get is Hell's Kitchen, and we eat out of cans, boxes and yogurt containers.

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But the family reunion:
We took ds and Miss I to the dh's family reunion today - a very large annual gathering of very Italian Americans. (Does it count as a reunion if it happens every year?)

Last year we thought we were attending our last, and today we were pleasantly surprised.

Years ago when I was first dating dh, the reunion's long-running rituals were still in place: the men of the oldest generation in attendance (excepting of course, the non-Italian men who had married into the family), would gather at tables while the women prepared dinner, the younger men played bocce, and the children played. Anyone who wasn't a bit Italian felt a bit out of place, no matter how welcome, but it was always fun and strange and anachronistic, and the food was wonderful (this is not a stereotype, people).

Last year, however, we were waiting for our second child (whom we were still expecting through a transracial domestic adoption) and while we (dh and I) had never placed much importance on "blood ties" (and to be honest, we went to the reunions nearly annually more out of my curiosity than dh's interest) we were more than usually struck by how strange it was that a little bit of shared dna rated an invitation to a picnic. Family, to our minds, was so much a matter of choice. So we could just as happily have gone to that family picnic as to the aa family birthday celebration at the shelter beside. We teased that the next year, we'd be just as welcome there and would likely have more fun.

This year, though, we realized that while family is indeed a matter of choice, mil and fil chose this family every year. Plus I'm still pretty curious.

The new joke was that Miss I. would not be welcome given Ethiopia's on-going celebration of their defeat of occupying Italians (and the Ethiopians have plenty to celebrate - while once occupied, Ethiopia managed never to be controlled by Western imperialists). But we were proud of Miss I. She didn't mention the Ethiopian/Italian conflict, Mussolini or Haile Silassie once. Instead she smiled at everyone from the safety of the hip carrier and later as she tried to join the still exclusively (now older) men's bocce game.

And we were proud of them.

Certainly things have changed now that a new generation is the oldest (ggma is the only one of hers still healthy enough to attend). But we weren't sure how they would take to the newest Bloom or the idea of adoption at all (we are not close enough for them to have known of our plans in advance, and except for this one skippable day per year it never really would have mattered).

We arrived late, and mil had gone armed with pictures, so most everyone had had time to process. Still we heard nothing but praise for her beautiful dimples, hearty congratulations to her grandparents, and "She has our curly hair," in contradistinction to myself and ds, as we have the straightest, blondest hair of anyone "in" the family. No one was unenthusiastic, and no one was over-enthusiastic (which to be honest sometimes feels worse). Strangely, it seemed as though they found us very normal.

3 comments:

Lola said...

Sounds like a wonderful time :) Didn't know of the italian heritage- that was very good of Miss "I" to not bring up any conflicts. And, did you say curly hair?? She has hair now!!!???

As for the cooking- don't get rid of those Recipe's-- there's still hope- there will be a time soon when you may want to teach your youngsters about cooking. As for eating out of boxes- I have loads of time to cook- but it didn't stop me from ordering two 14" pizzas today, all for just me- I'll be eating out of boxes for all week :)

Michelle said...

What a relief that must have been to know the reunion went so well! It's great how she was just accepted and like you said nobody tried "overly" hard because well then, that's just too obvious and not sincere!

Overwhelmed! said...

I think that's so awesome that you were pleasantly surprised by the welcome of Miss I. Hooray!

It's such a relief when that happens, isn't it? You're prepared to battle it out for your child if anyone darns to be rude or unaccepting and then, when it's the exact opposite response, you're relieved!