Well Rounded

No. This is not another post about my girth. This is a post about diversity in family. My extended family is something to behold and I mean that in the best way possible.

Let me start with my parents. My mother was born in north Georgia. My father was born in upstate New York. My mother was raised by a Southern Baptist preacher and my father was raised by a Lebanese grocery store owner that also had a bar that served beer and wine by the drink.

My mother is white as the driven snow and Daddy had skin almost the color of a penny in the summer. They were married in the early fifties and how this Catholic man of color and this harmonizing white Baptist girl got together is….well it seems like it would have been downright scandalous at the time.

You probably think that it was my mothers side with all the objections. I don’t know but I have to think that back then there must have been some talk, although I know that in my lifetime they loved my father. The same goes for my fathers family. They love my mother but my grandfather made it clear that he wanted Daddy to marry within his race.

Two things they did have in common were music and a lot of siblings. On my moms side there were seven girls and one brother. On my fathers side there were five boys and two girls. Needless to say our family reunions on both sides are quiet an affair and I enjoy them both equally.

My mothers side is always plenty of food and laughter and gospel music. It seems that everybody can sing or play something. The memories that I have when I was a little boy are priceless. First came the food and prayers. When you have nine children in a family and all of them are married with multiple children and some of the children have spouses and children then…well you get the picture. There were a lot of people to feed and we never ran out of food. That also meant that there were a lot of people to sing and sing they did!

On my fathers side there was basically the same thing but different. There were a lot of people and yes all of them sang and played something. Dads family reunions were almost always and still are held outside. The family also prays before the meal and there is plenty of laughter. There are a few differences in the menu. One is the food is pretty much Middle Eastern cuisine which if you haven’t tried it you should. Also the beverages are slightly different. Dads side it is mainly beer. Did I say there is plenty of laughter?

The music is different on Dads side also. I can remember my grandmother at 4’7″ tall playing the accordion and blowing a mean harmonica. If you couldn’t play then you filled a beer can up with sand and pebbles and played that.

I could not say that I enjoyed one more than the other. What I will say is that I fully embrace the diversity of culture that I have been raised up in and feel sorry for folks who have not had the tremendous opportunity that I was afforded simply because a little dark Lebanese man and a tiny white southern mountain woman fell in love and married.

Thanks Mom and Dad and thank you to all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles on both sides for the happy memories that we continue to make.

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32 Responses to Well Rounded

  1. sally1137 says:

    Great memories! My dad’s family had ten boys and three girls, while my mom’s family had 9 boys and 8 girls. At my dad’s family reunions (non-religious Methodists), my uncles told wildly embellished stories and offered to “tune up” the kids by taking them over their knees for a spanking. They often had a line to take them up on the offer. (Usually threats, and they’d slap their leg to make noise.) Alcohol (in the form of beer) was involved.

    My mom’s family had reunions in the Catholic church basement so it was more subdued, and no alcohol. But then they’d get to gossiping about the dead great uncles (one scammed some people out of their land during the Depression) and it would get very interesting.

    The food was always potluck, and always spectacular. Old germans can cook them some good food. πŸ™‚

    • Wow! we should put our families together and start a town! There are towns here in Georgia that doesn’t have that high of a population! Catholics can actually get together and not have alcohol? Hmmm…. that’s a strange concept πŸ™‚

      • sally1137 says:

        I moved away to St. Louis before I ever discovered the “Catholics and alcohol” thing. Who knew? I was astounded at the first event I went to and it was an open bar. I’ve since discovered they do have a secret Knights of Columbus beer fridge in our hometown church. But it’s a secret.

      • sssshhhh! Don’t tell anybody! πŸ™‚

  2. LOL what beautiful memories you have and are making. I came from families on both sides that were so private and uptight that they barely shared a meal within the same household let alone have or attend a family reunion! To this day I have tried to instill family to BE family within my on but it han’t worked because I tried to hard I suffocated them and they fled. All will be well though I have my christian family and heck there are not a lot of us that can say we have ‘Saints’ ( not the NEW O’LEANS football team) over for dinner? LOL

  3. e1aine says:

    I married a Catholic and had to take instruction to be married in a Catholic church. When my husband went along to ask for permission (we got married in a palace, which sounds much grander than it really is) the missionaries apparently said ‘Ah, you want Father Kennedy, he’ll be along in a minute from the pub, but it’s ok, we’ve hidden the whiskey’. When my husband asked him, explaining that I’d been brought up by an atheist and was ‘practically pagan’ he just said ‘Yes, I’ll have her’. A truely wonderful man. After the ceremony he took all the groom’s family down the pub with him, they missed most of the reception and I was rather envious.

    Not relevant I guess, but you’ve brought back a wonderful memory of a marvellous man. I believe he still preaches.

    • Oh yeah that’s relevant AND funny! I remember getting caught buying vodka when I was fifteen by our vice principal who was also a priest. He caught me because he hung out at the liquor store where I tried to buy it!

  4. e1aine says:

    That’s classic. Was he nice about it or really angry?

    • He actually let me leave the with the vodka with the parting words of I’ll see you in my office first thing Monday morning. Monday he gave me a choice. I could work after school for him for two weeks or he could tell my father on the golf course next Saturday and let him handle it. Of course I saw no reason to burden my father with that useless information

  5. terry1954 says:

    I love your story and I wish I could have been in those times of music, love and laughter in one big family. I personally don’t care what race people are. It is their inner hearts that I love. You are who you are today, kind, loving and compassionate because you had a wonderful upbringing with prayer first and family love second…………………….thanks so much for being a wonderful friend of mine

  6. More, more, more!
    I loved this, was smiling the whole way through
    Your families sound wonderful!

  7. Teeny Bikini says:

    I love this story. I just do. Thank you.

  8. I love the wonderful memories you share here with the promise of more to come. And your description of the diversity within your family is marvelous. Crossing cultures and boundaries can be difficult ( I know from being a protestant moving to N.Ireland to marry a catholic how prejudiced people can be!) but the mixture can result in the next generation being so much more tolerant and loving to others from a different background.
    Wishing you a fabulous trip!

  9. Judy Kitchens says:

    As a cousin from the “white as the driven snow” side I can tell you that Eddie’s description of our family reunions is right on. We might see each other once or twice a year but we are always able to pick right up where we left off. Honestly I am closer to my cousins than some people I know are to their own siblings. Our family was and is greatly blessed with the understanding and giving of unconditional love. Love you Eddie and to all of my cousins and Martha and Francis! Eddie I hope you had that elusive graceful landing in California and enjoyed yourself!

    • HEY CUZ!! I had a wonderful time! I agree with everything you said in your reply. We ARE truly blessed to have such a wonderful sense of belonging with are families. I love you and can’t wait for our next reunion!

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