When I was growing up, it was my cousins that I saw at each and every holiday and event. At these gatherings, my aunts and uncles chattered in the background, while the kids ran amok. Most of my relatives ALL live within a 15 mile radius of each other. There were, and still are, only a handful of exceptions--uh, like maybe 5, including me.
Food was always homemade and potluck. Everyone had their signature speciality. Every once in a while a fantastic new dish would appear, and the recipe was instantly shared on recipe cards. They still all do this for birthdays, graduations and holidays. That is a very hard part about living across the country from your childhood home.
When we moved to the west coast, I had to leave behind the occasions that defined my ideas of celebration and family. I also left behind the network of support that you don't really realize is there until you don't have it. Especially, after I had my first baby, I realized that I was alone. There was no one to bring over a casserole in the special sharing basket. There was no one to hold that baby while I had a shower.
Last night, I looked around the late night circle of faces on the patio in the candle light. There was so much big history in that little circle. We were all comfortable, the way that family is comfortable. There is a comfort and grace that is so reassuring.
If I had a baby now, there is no doubt that casseroles would appear magically on my doorstep. There is no doubt that any woman, or man, in that circle would hold my precious newborn so that I could take a shower.
We are not afraid to call each other out on the good. the bad or the ugly. There is no fear. We all have seen the highs and lows, and we know that these are solid, friends for good. These, are our west coast family...and we love you!