Wednesday, December 3, 2008

thanksgiving with the cousins

Thanksgiving weekend was great! My Mom was one of 3 sisters and all of us kids (cousins) are pretty close in age. We spent a lot of time together when growing up; always at the holidays of course but lots of sleepovers and socializing other times as well. In high school ,the ones of us closest in age, would sometimes wind up at each other's parties or date each other's friends. In college two of us travelled through Spain together. Now we live all over the country; Pa, NJ, Kentucky and Oregon and Thanksgiving is the only time we are all together. Every other year all the far away ones pack up their families and fly in. It's great to be together and I worry about the future when we the Aunts may lose their ability to force them all to do so. Of course since I know my parents and Aunt are immortal this is not really an issue.
This year Thanksgiving was at the shore. We are no longer 'the kids' and even the real kids are either in college or just out. Luckily, we still have a 3 year old boy (Ar)and a 4th grade girl (Is) to add some excitement. With 20 people everyone gets a food assignment. Are we the only family that also assigns liquor? Given my strong domestic skills I was assigned pies, Cesar salad, veggies & dip and beer. My husband had to provide the cosmo recipe and assume bar tendering duties. Mom got bloody mary mix and everyone got wine along with their food duty. Yes, we had too much food and the Aunts worked too hard; a given at any holiday.

My cousin Ellen ,besides bringing the turkey, found a zillion hours of old family holiday films and condensed them into a 30 minute DVD. There were the now college kids crawling around on the floor, ripping open Hanukkah presents, and searching for the afikomah. Lots of drunken renditions of Had ga yaw at Seders and the 'traditional' Thanksgiving pinata (don't ask). And of course, the plays! Every holiday the kids got dressed up and after hours of rehearsals put on elaborate plays. Watching the films was an absolute riot. We could not stop laughing ; how the dinner ever got in the oven I don't know.

That night my husband and kids went back home and I stayed over. I got to spend the whole next day with my cousins and am happy to announce that the Monopoly obsession continues in our family. When the 'college' kids were younger they would set up a Monopoly game at my Mom's house at the shore and play for days and days on end. It was an intricate part of our family time and was even the theme for my son's bar mitzvah. This year I set up the game and started playing with my 4th grade girl cousin (Is) from Kentucky and the 3 year old boy (Ar) from Oregon. Impressively, Ar did pretty well for about 20 minutes before growing bored and wandering off with the racing car. We continued the game with Is' dad ( my cousin) filling in. An addict was born.
When I arrived at my Aunt's house the next morning Is was waiting outside with the game all set up on the dining room table. Her Mom, who I love, and high school brother, also pretty fabulous, joined in and dad acted as her financial advisor. We played for hours and finally had to take a break for some black Friday shopping. Fortunately the excursion was fast and we were back at the board in a few hours. I gave her the game to take back to Kentucky and expect she will be a shark by the time I ever get to visit.
The great thing about Monopoly is how passionately everyone plays. As my cousin says as soon as you play you can see why the game has been around forever. It equally enthralled the 10 year old, the 17 year old, and the 40 somethings. What I love is how passionately and how individually everyone plays. The 17 year old was dead serious and playing for blood, my cousin was obsessed with getting as much land as possible, his wife, eternally optimistic, and Is burst into tears anytime someone bought a property she had her eye on. I suspect she will go far in this world. Eventually I had to say good bye and head back to my folks to get dressed for dinner. Dinner for 11; just the 'adults' in a great byob. Mercifully it was pretty empty which allowed us to be as loud as we wanted and , most unusually with a large group, to talk to everyone at the table. Still, impossible to catch up on a full years worth of life in 2 days and i reluctantly said my good byes at the end of the evening. The next day I headed back home but that's for another entry!

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