Well. That was fun.
This past weekend, my family came together in Portland, OR for a joint birthday celebration: my sister's 60th and my dad's 85th. From my dad to my great nieces, four generations were represented at this gathering.
Though none of us live very far apart, everyone is always so busy that we only get together about twice a year. Because we spend time together so infrequently, having all of us in the same place lent extra importance to these two already significant birthdays.
On Saturday night, my nieces and nephews threw a surprise party for my sister, inviting a handful of her old high school friends for casual cocktails and cake. Of course, my sister was surprised and delighted to see her friends. But the party really got going once the guests left, our kids pulled out their iPods, and started to DJ. What transpired was the best multi-generational dance party in recent memory. The kids catered to all ages, playing everything from The Beach Boys to Beyonce, with a liberal sprinkling of Michael Jackson in between. At one especially sweet moment, my sister danced with our dad to the song "My Way" by his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra. Immediately after the dance came a rousing round of "New York, New York," a homage to my dad's boyhood home, and a sprinkling of Johnny Cash and John Denver hits.
When James Brown said, "Get up offa that thing and shake 'til you feel better" he was right-- we danced and danced together for hours with complete abandon and plenty of laughter. It felt so good. To be sure, not every day, or even every birthday, feels as joyful as this one. Dancing provided the most wonderful release and made us all feel unquestionably closer to one another in the way only pure celebration and genuine expression of love can. I felt very reaffirmed in the strength in my family. I felt comforted to have their support and unconditional love for myself and for my children.
Especially for families who see each other only on rare occasions, it's too easy to forget how unique that familial bond feels. I strongly believe experiencing this kind of love is well worth the planning and patience it takes to coordinate everyone's schedules. Your family are the ones who will be there for you at the end of the day. Though you may not see eye to eye with some family members, they hold the unique position of knowing you your entire life. Don't overlook this fact. It is worth something. Keep your family close and cherish them.