We’re transcontinental. After we moved our little nuclear family to Ohio almost eighteen years ago, our youngest child Beth moved back to California to attend college, stay, and start a little clan of her own. Meanwhile, our extended family members have continued to migrate across the continent and graft themselves into family trees from Colombia, Mexico, Quebec…
So last week my wife Trudy and I flew to Los Angeles for an early Christmas with Beth and our new son-in-law Sergio, as well as Trudy’s multinational clan.
It was messy. Nothing went as planned. Our car rental office was in the opposite direction they’d sent us, and we drug our luggage for 45 minutes before we found the place. But at least we were lost together.
“Christmas morning” came three weeks early, with only some of the gifts we’d planned to bring (others are still on the way). But at least we were together. Even Beth’s older sibling and lifelong confidant Elliot was able to fly in for a few days. Plus, we got to meet our new grandcats!
The next day, a lemon of a “scenic” hike took us past a vast trash and dumpster enclave alongside a blaring freeway. Still, we joked and laughed and made lemonade. Together.
The day after that, we drove up to the local San Gabriel Mountains. I’d longed once again to see the sugar pine forests and panoramic vistas we’d experienced there as a young SoCal family. But nothing was as we remembered it. The view from the spectacular Rim of the World Highway was obscured by smog. And our planned walk amid the pines turned out to be a pine-less stumble amid darkling scrub brush. Still, we stumbled along together.
No one knew what to call our extended family event. Possibly a “Pre-Christmas Gathering Because Nephew Jordan and His Adorable Little French-Speaking Family from Quebec are Here and so are Trudy, Mitch and Elliot from Ohio, Plus It’s Big Chris’s Birthday and Next Week Will Be Little Aunt Sandee’s Birthday…Celebration?” No. We didn’t call it anything, we just gathered. And ate. And laughed. And hugged. And took pictures. Together.
Yesterday, our daughter Beth apologized for not having arranged things more seamlessly. But Mom (Trudy) told her it didn’t matter. And she was right. Because we’d had the only thing that really mattered. We’d had Us…