Every two years The Hubster’s family come together for a week-long ritual involving booze, a ridiculous amount of physical activity, food, booze, and did I mention, booze?
This year it’s 19 of us hanging about in swanky Westport, Connecticut, and I’m a bit bummed that Maxi-Me couldn’t make it this year on the count of her mandatory cheer leading camp run by The Gay Cheer Leading Nazi, who, for the sake of my daughter’s safety, I will not name.
People often ask me what it’s like being the only brown dot in the family, and I have to say that after the initial hurdles of the first few years of my in-laws settling into the idea of a black daughter-in-law and me settling into the idea all that I would be the real, live aunt to white children (curse you, Aunt Jemima!) it’s been great. I talk a lot about it in SWIRLING, because let’s face it–a black woman marrying into a white family could be as hard to picture as Kermit the Frog marrying Ms. Piggy.
Once my in-laws got over their “color shock,” we both realized that much of the values and traditions the Karazins celebrate, so too does my family–the Texas Russell clan, also celebrate, although on a much more modest scale. Much of our gatherings involve telling funny stories about The Hubster and his siblings’ misadventures, and often ends with, “Did I really do that??” or “You’re remembering it wrong.” and my personal favorite, “It wasn’t that bad.” We have lots of laughs and there’s real love between us. Much of own extended family also mirrors their’s–folks marry well and stay married (all of my husband’s siblings have been married to the same person and out of a kabillion cousins, there’s only been one divorce. My parents were married 45 years and only split when my father left this earth–just one day after their last wedding anniversary. Much of the activities center around food, as does mine.
But there’s some traditions I’ve had to assimilate to, like the fact that The Karazins are rabidly competitive, which explains why The Hubster absolutely refuses to throw any games of Candyland or Connect Four, no matter how many times he wins or how young his opponent is. This year during the Family Olympics (yes; you read that right), Mike’s brother kept a scorecard. And they huddle to share strategies. The Hubster refused to play at first because these things often end in tears, but warmed to the idea after booze and promises not to take the games (too) seriously.