Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blood is thicker, but who cares when there's alcohol?

We went to a wedding in New Hampshire this past week-end. Whenever anyone said "oh, whose wedding?", I'd have to take a breath and think for a moment, then say "my husband's aunt's second husband's daughter". Which might make you think it was one of those weddings where we hardly know anyone and we were really just going for a week-end in New Hampshire. But you'd be wrong (not that the New Hampshire part wasn't a big draw. I had lobster rolls for breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

My husband has an aunt who is about ten years younger than his Mom, and he was born when his Mom was only twenty-one (I think) so Kate was more like a big sister than an aunt. She let him hang around with her and her boyfriends, she fed him junk food and took him to see Poltergeist when he was way too young and it scarred him for years. I met her quite early in our relationship and loved her -- she's a banker, so she's analytical and organized and A-type, which I admire because I'm so not, but she's also sweet and funny and very generous with her time and friendship. She was divorced (she worked with the Royal Bank out west and had a brief cowboy episode), but the same year we got married she married Fraser, who, although it's almost beyond belief, totally matches her awesomeness. You know how some people seem to try to make you feel like, when they're talking to you you're the most important, fascinating, engaging person ever? But the whole time you're with them, you can tell that they're trying? Fraser does that for real (or hides the trying part so well that, frankly, who cares?)

Fraser has two grown children from his first marriage, who are very close to him, and Kate since they got married. We always have a big Canada Day party out at my husband's grandparents' place in July, and Fraser's kids would often join us. I have pictures of his daughter Hayley holding my daughter at pretty much every age. Gregory, his son, has a son who is three, so he comes too. Matt also has an uncle who married and had a kid at forty-seven, so his little boy is in there -- a bunch of kids who look like grandchildren of the same generation, but are either related very unconventionally or not at all. I love this. I've heard the term 'blended family'. I prefer to call our family 'smushed together'.

When we were halfway to New Hampshire, our kids safely tucked away back home (although we had, unbeknownst to us, not unloaded Angus's suitcase, so we'd basically left him with only the clothes on his back, but that's another story), I sighed and said "this is nice. It was nice of them to invite us. Oh crap, do you think they really wanted us to come? What if we were one of those courtesy invitations just to be polite? What if they got our reply and thought 'ah Christ, two more for dinner'. Agh, turn around, we have to go home!". Everyone assures me this wasn't the case (I guess I'll never know for sure). I often tend to stay on the prickly, cynical side of things (mostly to protect my fragile, mushy interior), but Kate called me her niece all week-end instead of her nephew's husband, and, the incestuous implications aside, this made me feel extremely warm and fuzzy (admittedly travelling everywhere on a trolley with a big cooler of beer at the front added to the general glowiness).

I'm a big believer that you start with the family you're stuck with, and stick on anyone who comes along who shares your sense of humour. I could not have been luckier to be given the parents and the sister I already have. All the other smushed-together people just add to the fun.
photo credit
creative commons license

(When we got to the border crossing, the guy took our passports, asked us where we were going and why, and then said "who's getting married?". We exchanged glances, Matt took a deep breath and said "my cousin". I don't think the U.S. border guards are ready for the intricacies of smushed-togetherness yet.)

No comments: