The Joys of Family Gatherings

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Life
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
My mom, dad, brother and I pose for a "family" photo.

My mom, dad, brother and I pose for a “family” photo.

Here’s some more personal information about myself. I am the oldest of 16 cousins. When our family gets together, there are between 30 and 50 of us, depending on which extended cousins show up. This, usually, leads to some intense family discussions and meanderings across the board. As this side of the family is mostly of Irish descent, to say we do our fair share of drinking is an understatement. There are only two times a year we can count on getting together; the Fourth of July and Christmas. I love my family dearly, and I always look forward to these gatherings. However, things have changed a lot in the past few years.

The focus of my younger adult cousins has turned from enjoying the family together to let’s see how jacked up we can be. As the four eldest cousins grew up to the legal drinking age, the drinking wasn’t the focus of family gatherings. I understand there was some frustration when two of us were chastised for drinking before being 21, but personally I have never made it a point to drink heavily any time I was near my extended family. The only exception was a couple of years ago. At about 4 a.m. I was well beyond my limit and made a fool of myself, as anyone would that was emotional about the loss of a family member and was well beyond drunk.

There is a shift though. Now, most of my cousins down to the age of 16 insist on drinking and making other poor decisions blatantly in front of the family. In my experience, there was no lack of alcohol or other vices around my friends at home so I never DARED to do some of the things they do at my grandparents’ house. I would never disrespect my grandfather’s whaler (speedboat) or his deck by doing some of the things they did, and especially not with adults awake a mere 20 feet away in the second floor of Nana and Papa’s house.

I’m not saying that I’m above what they were doing; it’s no secret that I’ve dealt with addiction and made poor decisions, but there’s a time and a place for it. If you can’t go four days without doing something, my advice would be rehab.

The thing all these young adults fail to realize is that it is family time at Nana and Papa’s. Clearly there is a lack of understanding or a lack of appreciation for what those two people have done for us. We have an amazing family life, and it’s because of the legacy they have built for us. I’d never dream of disrespecting my grandparents by doing what they did because I think about Nana and Papa and what they’ve done for me every single day. It isn’t easy being a non-traditional student. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my 28 years, but I wouldn’t be building my successes from the ground up if it wasn’t for their clear example and support today.

I know everyone has their vices, but there’s a time and a place for it and your grandparents’ house isn’t it. I spent 22 hours in a car to see you, and your main concern is smoking pot on a deck? Are you serious? Our late night intellectual conversations have been replaced with a late night rendezvous to catch a buzz? Is this what family time is worth to you?

I’d much rather know what is going on in your life and how things are going than do that kind of thing. I can do that on any Tuesday at home if I feel the need, but there are two visits, maybe 10 days out of the year, I can spend with you, and this is how you choose to spend it. It really makes me reconsider taking the time out of my schedule (7 jobs) to have my time ruined by disrespect to the family and a general disinterest to what you are doing. Be respectful of what your fore-bearers have done for you, especially when the family has gathered at their house to celebrate a holiday.

EDIT: One of my cousins has voiced concerns with this blog as “throwing them under the bus.” I am not trying to get you in trouble, if that were the case I would have promptly walked inside and let your parents know what you were doing. I’m not taking a “holier than thou” stance, simply a smarter than thou position. Everyone knows I have had multiple mix-ups with the law or authority figures. I’ve made the mistakes and learned the lessons the hard way, and you don’t have to. The point is to be smart and be respectful when it comes to what you’re doing. The thing I’ve learned is that actions have consequences. One slip-up with what you’re doing and the law is involved. One mistake and then we’re asked to not come back. I love family time, and I love Nana and Papa very much. But if you mess up and something happens and they ask us not to return because of YOUR actions and not my own, then what? Do I just forgive and forget? No. I’ve never been one to sit by and watch the world go by, I’m an active participant. You’re messing with MY world and I have taken a position against you in the hopes that you see this and realize what you’re doing and how it impacts those around you. I’m not here on a pedestal trying to get you in trouble, if that was the case I’d have just ran to tell your mommy. So please, 18-year-old child, save your lecture, I know the repercussions of this blog and no I will not take it down.

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