I love to travel. There is nothing better than zipping away to an exciting destination. But my favorite time to step foot on a plane is when I know my family is waiting on the other end.
Everyone loves their family but many people prefer theirs at a distance. I love my family just as much from Arizona as I do snuggled head-toe on Christmas Eve in Maine…. But much prefer the latter. The reason being is that they add such an incredible richness to my life. I find myself laughing more than worrying when I’m with them… and caring more about love and happiness than how much I weigh or my finances.
I worry a lot… it’s in my nature. I worry a lot about the future, my “timelines,” what my legs look like in my bathing suit, what I eat, if my boss notices how hard I work. But my family – the whole extended kit and caboodle – pulls me back to reality and reminds me that the best moments in life are ones where we really relish in the PRESENT; moments that are often immeasurable and unplanned.
I’ve just gotten back from a 30-hour trip to Massachusetts. I left Friday night on a red-eye to Logan to make it to Steve and Whitney’s wedding. When my entire family pulled up curbside at 7:00 am – meaning they were up before 5 am – I hopped into the cramped little rental care and the laughter and chatter began immediately. I ADORE morning people 🙂
After arguing over directions and almost being run off the road twice by the ever-loved “Massholes,” we settled into a booth at IHOP, filling our bellies with yummy breakfast and coffee – and I didn’t calculate calories in my head once. After a three hour cat nap at the Homewood Suites in Peabody, 4 girls and 1 poor, poor man scrambled around, attempting to shower, flat iron, curl dress and make-up faces (with one bathroom) for a huge Buckley family wedding.
When we got to the beautiful stone manor venue, overlooking the rocky, Atlantic coast, I was engulfed in a fury of hugs and booming personalities. It felt so good to feel that warmth and energy on a warm September afternoon. If you are from a big, loud family, you know that this energy is always welcome and never overwhelming. It feels more normal than anything else. This is hard for people from quiet, more calm families to understand – I always think back to My Big Fat Greek Wedding as the perfect analogy.
When the ceremony began in a simple, outdoor setting, I couldn’t help but smile at how relaxed and happy the bride and groom looked. They worked hard for their special day and the important piece (having found a soulmate in one another), was obvious. This type of love always makes me happy to witness because it is so rare and beautiful; that kind of love that seems unencumbered by the unimportant things in life. Everyone in the wedding party was stunning and when my sweet little cousins (ages 4 and 2) filed down the aisle as flower girl and ring bearer, so so excited to see their uncles and dad at the altar, it made me love even more how big and close my family is.
The reception was to die-for… no formal fussy dinner, but rather an open bar, beer trough, and stations set up with the likes of fried clams, scallops, french fries and sliders… even mini ice cream cones for dessert! Truly the best wedding food EVER. The venue was enchanting and frozen in time –stone walls, twinkle lights, crown molding, hardwood floors and rooms full of quintessential New England charm. I love old houses, beautifully crafted wood details, rooms overlooking the ocean – so much more interesting than the Pottery Barn copycats you see today.
When the dancing began, no one could keep their feet still and though my toes are now completely numb from new heels, we never sat down once. At one point (my favorite point), the skies opened up and it started to pour. Most people would’ve been very distraught – what did my cousins and I do? Immediately threw off our shoes and ran into the rain, laughing and dancing together, toes squishing in the warm mud. And then a few uncles joined… and aunts… and my parents… and the bride (in her white dress!) and groom. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. I’ll never forget feeling more blessed and thankful to have been born into this big, amazing family where no one waits for the ideal conditions to kick up their heels and enjoy a moment. That is truly a gift and an ability that many never develop.
The end of the 30 hours of fun took place at family brunch this morning at my aunt and uncle’s cozy house in the woods. With plates filled with bacon, eggs, fruit and donuts, we all continued catching up, sharing stories, and giggling as sweet little William and Neila ran through the house playing make-believe, stopping now and then for an impromptu hug.
Getting back on the plane to Arizona is never easy for me, but this time, I tried to sit down on the plane and just let the joy I experienced this weekend wash over me from head to toe. I hate with every fiber of my being living so far from family and always will (sorry, friends, this is something most people in my shoes simply don’t ever get used) but I do know that I have been given so much by being born into this family and no matter how far apart, we are always close in spirit. No matter how long it has been, it’s like it was just yesterday. And luckily for me, although the throes of adulthood have made it harder to see each other often, no one can take away the most magical childhood and incredible memories I have locked in my soul growing up with these people.
These people with the likes of a groom who refills the beer at his own wedding to make sure his guests have fun, cousins who set off fireworks from the ocean for their brother during a reception, cousins in the military who are not always able to attend these events because they are fighting for their country, uncles who still meet at 6 am on Sundays to fish down river and can fix anything with their bare hands, and aunts who have brought up some of the kindest, most thoughtful, funny and interesting sons and daughters you will ever have the pleasure of knowing.
I hope my own kids are blessed like this someday. I often worry that I will never be able to replicate the life I had growing up. BUT, I’m going to try really hard – because it was from these people that I learned that there is nothing in the WORLD more important than family and love. You can die with a million dollars in your bank account or $1, but if you do not have warm, beautiful memories in your heart of the people you love, none of it matters anyway.
Slainte, my big crazy Irish family… until we meet again ❤