It wasn't perfect. My mom complained because we were at a long table--"At least at the Chinese restaurant we'd have been at a round table!" Not that it would have helped anyway-when there are 11 people at a party, you can't sit next to everyone. I'm used to that from my in-laws! My younger nephew got a fit of giggles and my brother and his wife didn't do what I would have done--taken him outside and read him the riot act. He's 7--old enough to know how to behave in a restaurant, especially since my sister-in-law just about never cooks and they eat out all the time (!) Finally, they switched his seat and he calmed down. My niece was having her third or fourth celebration of her 3rd birthday that week--really. She's cute, but spoiled rotten, I seldom ever see her and I feel far more family connection to my niece and darling great nieces on the Man's side of the family than I probably ever will to her. That's sad. She is apparently very shy with my dad--not surprising, since she seldom sees him, but she warmed up enough to come over and be with him and to give him kisses. My dad loves kids, and he's a natural with them.
My oldest nephew is 10 and a charmer. I would LOVE to spend more time with him--he's smart and funny and I wish his parents would get that there is far far more to him than the 15 million sports they have him play. And I wish they would make the arduous trek from Brooklyn more than once or twice a year and bring him to see my dad. They were chatting about baseball and I could see the relationship that COULD be between them, if only my brother and his wife gave a damn about it! But they don't. Don't get me wrong, my brother LOVES my parents. But he's moved into his wife's family. Their rich, easy life, the youth of his in-laws, it all fits his life more than our elderly parents in their apartment in the Bronx. Or my life as a public servant.
I love my brother. I wish we were close. I wish my father got WHY we are no longer close, why we are unlikely to be close again. I wish my father noticed--or at least out loud commented on--that we are there for every Thanksgiving, every Christmas. That we make the trek up as often as we can--and for us it is a 5 hour journey, and would do it gladly much more often if time and money allowed. That family matters to us. That we understand that family is EVERYTHING is in this world. I learned that from him and from my mother, and it's what I want to pass to my daughters.
Probably at the Chinese restaurant to make Mom happy......