Memories From the Balcony – How’s About a Little Family Time

Nothing will ever be like the family gatherings from when I was a kid.
Nothing will ever be like it was and I know this. But still, maybe there’s not supposed to be anything like this. Maybe this is what keeps our memories perfect and special.

I know that times were different. I know that there was this thing that happened in a pre-pandemic life where people actually gathered together and communicated on a face to face basis. There was a time when people actually talked and this wasn’t just through texts or emails. 
To me, I’m grateful to say that mine was a generation before technology blew up into what it is today.

I know that there was a time, like when the special holidays came around, which only came a few times a year.
Even though this was only on occasion, I knew this meant that I was going to see my Cousins.
I knew this meant that I would see my Aunts and Uncle.
I knew this meant that I would see my extended family. They were equally as important too.
These were people who became family by selection and because we were all so close, it was a given that they would be there as well.

Then again, I’m sure we knew this back then yet I’m not sure if we actually thought or expected that someone would go or move away. We never expected the empty spaces in the chairs, which, sadly, this is part of life.
I say this because the people we love and the people who hold a position in our family (and in our hearts) eventually pass away. Again, this is sad but true. One by one, chair by empty chair, the family gatherings begin to change.

It’s true that I think we take this for granted. We forget that time and life is short. We forget that our moments together are more precious than we realize.
We forget that time is finite and that since there is no sequel, we forget to hug once more or share another meal with the people we love the most.

I don’t think the world will ever be the same again, at least not like it was when I was in my youth.
I think technology has changed too much. I think the generations have changed and the importance of human interaction has been slightly muted.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m not seeing something.

I can remember when my Old Man would tell me about life. He would tell me about the youth of my generation and how we were all messed up.
My Father would tell me that I wouldn’t understand or that I couldn’t understand because I was just a kid.
You’re too young . . .
I told my Father, maybe it was him that didn’t understand. Maybe he was too old to understand and maybe that was the problem. I told him that he hadn’t been young for a long time and that maybe he forgot what this was like.

Maybe this is true with me as well.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been young per se.
It’s been a long time since I knew what was relevant with regards to fashion or music. It’s been a long time since my finger was on the pulse of what it feels like to be part of a new generation. 
I’m not new anymore. 
And that’s fine.
But today is new.
Either way . . .
Time is finite.
This means each day moves us closer to a grand finale –
So make them all count.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a kid at the kid’s table anymore.
Do they still have the kid’s table anymore or has this become insensitive to the newer generation?
I don’t know what it’s like to be so young and look up at one of your crazy cousins and feel that excitement.
I had people like this in my family. I loved seeing them and the wild mysteries they possessed. 

I wonder if it’s the same for kids today.
I wonder if kids still see this as important. Or are they so absorbed with gaming and their technology that the life around them is more like background noise.

Please don’t get me wrong.
We had video games when we were kids too. None of our games were as graphic or as well designed as the games of today. I admit it, some of them were very basic and simple. But hey, I can remember the days when people actually went outside.
I remember seeing the parks and playgrounds filled with people.
I can remember this and at the same time, I can remember feeling this sense of warmth because even though life was far from perfect, at least there was something good out there.
At least, there was a slight reprieve and, for the moment, I could see or feel something else.
I could show a cousin something new in my room or we could go outside and be free to joke around. 

I don’t know if this is the same. I don’t know if anything will ever be the same again – especially now in our post-pandemic world. I only know that one thing is true, time is still finite.
Whether the world improves or if we blow us all away with a war to end all wars, time is always ticking. Since this is true, this means we are living on limited time. The amount of times we see the people we love are dwindling down to an eventual end. 

To be clear – I don’t say this to be sad or in a bad way.
My point is there needs to be a shift in our attention. There needs to be a shift in our awareness because days will pass and people will move onto the next chapter of their existence and whether the people we love are alive or in the afterlife, we only have so much time to make our memories count.

So, close your eyes.

Envision one of your most favorite family gatherings.
Think of the food on the tables and your favorite dishes that you couldn’t wait to eat. Think about the smiles and the laughter. Think about the expressions on the faces of people who you hadn’t seen since the last gathering.
Think about the things that spill or how almost every year someone breaks a glass or a dish in the kitchen or at the table – and almost automatically, someone will respond with, “It ain’t a family gathering until something gets broken!”

Close your eyes.
Think about the room where everyone put their coats when they came in from outside. Or wait, think about the summer gatherings. Think about the warm summer days and how the nights came later.
Think about the family who came and sat with you. Think about the smells from your youth and the smells from the kitchen.
Think about the emotions this triggered and how great it was to see Grandma that one last time. 

I don’t mean for this to be sad.
Instead, I use this outline for a description that needs to come back into our lives.
I want to create a shift. I want to build a new gathering which is allowed to be different because everything is different nowadays. 

I wish I could have gone to one of your family gatherings.
I wish I was there to see how everyone smiles or how people at the table responded when the topic of something around politics came up.
Typically, this is when the arguments came out which, for some families, was almost a competition at an Olympic level.

It’s okay though – it’s not arguing really – this is just what families call a passionate debate – am I right?
Sometimes, these got heated. Sometimes the debates might lead to people not talking for a little while – at least not until the next time we all see each other again. 

I don’t know if the food today tastes like it did when we were young.
Then again, I’m not sure if any meal can be duplicated because the loving hands that made them have all moved on.
But ah, the memories.
It’s enough to bring me to a moment when I remember good things.
It’s enough to bring me a sense of warmth. It’s enough to help me realize that tomorrow is never guaranteed; in which case, it only pays to share my love in full circle with the people who matter the most – especially you – especially now in a post-pandemic world – especially with all of the fighting and all of the drama – time is finite, which means now is the time to make everything count. 

I admit that my family is scattered now and I get it. This is part of life too.
I admit that no one seems as close as they used to be. Unfortunately, it often seems like we only gather when someone dies or when something tragic takes place. 
I understand fallouts. I understand that people need to split or go off in a different direction for their own mental health.
I get this because I’ve had to do this too.

But still – I hold the old memories of my family as sacred. I keep this close to the vest. I keep these memories near and dear to my heart because on days when life is lonely or when I miss the folks from my youth – I like to go back and picture our family gatherings at my Aunt Sondra’s house.
And then I let out a sigh . . .

This might be all I have left of some people –
But at least I have it.
Some people never have any of this –

And for them, I’m sorry.

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