In a small hamlet in New York called Fishs Eddy, forty family members with ages ranging from 10-month to eighty-something-year-old gathered from Mexico, Toronto, China, Texas, New Jersey, and Virginia just to be together for an entire week. I am still in awe with the effort to bring a dynamic superfamily under one roof. Thanks to the organizers, the cooks, the dish cleaners, the trash collectors, and everyone who made this special occasion filled with food, drinks, joy, and love.
Food brought people together. From home-cook meals to instant noodles to fruits and vegetables to hotdogs and hamburgers to snacks and sweets, we never ran out of options to eat. Our stomach was only our limitation. No matter what age group we were hanging out in, meal times were bonding times. Everyone came together to enjoy excellent dishes prepared with love and collaboration. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I managed to burn the delicious flans when I was asked to keep an eye on the oven. I fell asleep after many shots of Patrón.
Drinking was undoubtedly one of my personal favorite activities at the reunion. After a long day of babysitting the kids, playing with them in the pool, and taking care of their meals and baths, drinking was my way to relax and to connect with the cousins in my age group. Between the cousins, we tackled a wide range of issues including marriage, parenting, religion, abortion, gun, and “the book.” Before the reunion, I told myself to steer away from politics and sensitive subjects, but when drinks flowed in, words flew out. I was glad that we were able to be honest and respectful to each other. We agreed to disagree. I learned from different perspectives. For example, anh Quý and I had many opposing views, but I deeply admired his reasoning, articulation, and kindness. I trusted him and appreciated his openness. I wish uncle Bích was still with us to be part of the conversation.
As for the aunts and uncles, they were still in good health and willing to travel to be with their siblings, children, and grandchildren. The bond between them was stronger than ever. They were the anchor that keeps the reunion going. Of course, we didn’t forget uncle Thịnh who left us two years ago during the reunion. Rest in peace, uncle Thịnh and uncle Bích.
As for the kids, they bonded over video game, poker, Mahjong, Netflix, and snacks. They did not seem to mind not doing much outdoor activities as long as they had their digital devices. They had changed drastically over the years. I miss the good old days of the kids performing, dancing, and singing in front of the family. For entertainment, highlights were Đạo performed a few tunes on his viola while Xuân and Alex got their groove on.
Other than a minor collision, in which a deer ran into aunt Bé’s rental car, the 2019 family reunion was unforgettable. Everyone was eager and excited to see each other again and to meet the newest addition (baby Vương) to the family. A week was just enough time for us to bond without getting on each other’s nerves. Driving back home after an eventful week, I was exhausted. On top of that, the combination of hard liquor and sleep deprivation made my mood sentimental. I already missed our family. I can’t wait to see them again next year.