April 30, 2006

Family First

Yesterday was a very special day for me family-wise. It was the first time in somewhere between 10-15 years that all of the cousins from my generation got together for a family meal. Growing up, I have extremely fond memories of spending many Saturday nights at my Aunt Mamie's house. Aunt Mamie was my Sita's (grandmother) sister. She would make Lebanese food for the family and we'd spend the whole day and night eating fresh baked Lebanese bread, Kibbi, Hummus, grape leaves, Tabuli, Fatoosh, and more! It was a perfect way to grow up, eating authentic food from our heritage and playing for hours on end with our cousins.

Since we've grown up, and Aunt Mamie grew too old to prepare such wonderful meals, we've stopped getting together for a Lebanese food meal. We still see each other often, and some of our family food appears at each gathering, but it's typically only the easiest to make dishes that we eat now.

A few months shy of her 101st birthday, Aunt Mamie passed away in December. It was at her funeral that the cousins reminsced about our childhood and all of the wonderful food we grew up on and decided that we should all get together once again. Our Aunts could teach us how to make some of the food we love but have never made, and then we would all enjoy the meal together.

That idea came to life yesterday. Twenty-nine adults, nine children, and seven Lebanese dishes.

It's likely a combination of the facts that my Mom is no longer with us, that I'm now a mom and I'm just getting older that make me ache with the desire to be with my family as much as possible. It helps tremendously that the majority of my family is simply wonderful. Don't get me wrong, we have our share of disfunction - but overall, we're a really close family of good and decent people. I want my son to grow up knowing his family. To look back on his childhood with amazing memories of playing with all of his cousins. And I will do everything in my power to give him that experience.

I'm off to eat some leftover Kibbi ... yum!


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