On Saturday we went to a family reunion. The clan has lost some members since our last get-together, so we spent the usual amount of time avoiding that subject, then coming around to it when the moment seemed right.
It started with the usual sentiments – how happy they would be to see everyone together, and how much they loved times like these. And how funny and kind they were, and sharing a few stories that hadn’t been heard before.
And Grandma Janet told us how she still talks to Grandpa George and sometimes she even yells at him for the messes he left behind. Or asks if he’s proud that she was able to do something that used to be his job.
Then we all got depressed and Uncle Bill suggested we change the topic. To what? Syria? Our abandonment of Mexico to the drug lords? The Supreme Court’s most recent, and most baffling decisions? The hideous crime that was committed in Janet’s neighborhood years ago, but still haunts her to this day? My sister-in-law who works her ass off as a teacher, but the parents still complain that their child’s education isn’t good enough?
And then we whined about how it was too hot all week.
While it was a fabulous time together and I loved seeing the family and catching up, the doldrums of that conversation stayed with me. It happens when you’re talking to seniors whose lives are changing – who are mourning their losses – and naturally it’s hard to just snap out of it. But I was privileged to give them an audience.
And even though it kinda sucked, it was also cleansing. It made me face my Sunday with a little more gratitude. I was thankful for the money to buy a new bike for my son. For a beautiful (though bumpy) government-subsidized bike trail that I can ride on for hours in any direction and never feel threatened. For kids who still actually want to ride bikes with their parents. For youth, health, prosperity, and the real treat of the weekend: Hadley corn field ice cream.