I have a mixed history with family functions over the years. When I was little, I both enjoyed having so many visits from the siblings that lived away and hated not being the centre of attention when they were there, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Later, I saw some of the chaos that came with the group activities, and often rated the costs higher than the benefits. I much preferred a series of smaller family events than huge ones with everyone. That continued into my adult years, and for a time, I was the only one of the siblings that got along with the rest most of the time. The peacemaker as some saw it; the conflict avoider was closer to the truth.
After burying my mom, and seeing the dysfunction of our family at its worst, large family events have not been on my to do list. Even on Andrea’s side of the family where any dysfunction is relatively minor and well-hidden, I still find the large-scale numbers stressful and draining. I feel almost claustrophobic at times, and try to limit them to shorter duration, at least for my participation. I’m happy Andrea and Jacob partake, and glad they enjoy it, but I’m also far more cognizant of my limitations than I was earlier in my life. Whereas I used to grin and bear it poorly, now I know where I have to draw the line to remain sane.
So, with that being said, it probably seems odd that I have ANY 50by50 goals that increase the number of extended family functions. But I do, even if I have to rely at times on coping mechanisms (more wallflower than active participant, stepping out for air when the crowds get overwhelming, giving myself a set role like photographing lots of things).
One area that I was hopeful for this year was weddings. I’ve attended two weddings so far, and I think that will be all. Unless there are surprises coming that will literally be out of the blue!
The first wedding was that of my nephew, Chris, to his already-spouse Nancy. They had a small wedding in China back in the Spring, and this was an occasion to repeat it in Peterborough with Canadian family and friends. With my family, there is always opportunity for dysfunction, and it did sadden me that my brother Don is not on good terms with his son and the rest of their family, so was absent. I think he would be proud to see the man Chris has become, and the wonderful woman he has married. It was a small ceremony in my sister-in-law’s backyard, maybe 30 people or so (I didn’t count!). Interestingly? My brother Mike is a licensed officiant, and performed the ceremony for them. First time I’ve seen him do that, and quite enjoyable to see.
This past weekend, we had the pleasure to watch Andrea’s youngest cousin get married. Leslie and Kit’s wedding was quite different from the small gathering in Peterborough, and while enjoyable, this type of event would normally make me run the other way:
- Formal dress (obviously, most weddings are, although I only wore a dress shirt for Chris and Nancy’s wedding);
- Large group (close to 200);
- In Toronto (I tend to avoid T.O., Montreal, Vancouver when I can);
- Large church (my relationship with organized religion has reduced even further in recent years); and,
- At the Royal Canadian Yacht Club (me? At a yacht club? Maybe if I was organizing logistics hehehe).
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to attend and see them get married, it’s just not really my normal kind of event from a personal standpoint. Since it was not my wedding, that’s probably not relevant, just highlighting that it was quite different from my norm! 🙂
The wedding, of course, was beautiful. Lovely dress, simple lines and elegant, Kit cleaned up nicely too, as did the 8 attendants and groomsmen. After the wedding, we all headed to the RCYC on the island in Toronto harbour, and while they were doing pics off to one side, we all had a little garden party overlooking the skyline. Followed by a nice dinner, some speeches, some dancing, and a lovely cruise back to our car before heading back to a house we were staying in for the weekend.
All in all, two fun family events. With another three or so to go before I turn 50.