My wife’s family has gathered for its annual week-long get together and while it’s popular to bemoan such things, I won’t. We are three generations under one roof with cousins ranging in age from five to 9, our ranks swelled by the possibly temporary, possibly permanent partners of the older cousins.
The week is a testament to the triumph of the family over the individual and we fly under the banner of Strength Through Accommodation. We are tolerant of each others foibles. The grandparents shuttle grandchildren to and from the beach. The uncles engage in badminton played with no net and no discernible rules with the youngest nephews. Those of us who must work at times through the week find ourselves supplied with sandwiches and beer as we hunch over our laptops.
I admire the effort to plan meals for 20 and the generosity of each nuclear family unit as we try to please as many people as possible and their widely varying tastes. We treat each other well because their merriment is our victory.
We demonstrate a flexible managerial structure with the roles of chief and mere Indians shifting as the moment requires. Who must peel potatoes? Who must season the stew? Who must play with the kids?
It isn’t as though this comes without a bit of work but we come away grateful for the indulgence others have shown us, and for the chance to indulge them. We leave knowing each other that much better in the way that only spending time in the same place can make happen.
If we are sensible, we keep these habits in mind as we make our way through the more conventional times of the year.