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.