I’m lucky to have so many people to call family. Being still a sort of newlywed, I’m still getting used to having extra family now. I’ll still accidentally call my in-laws, “Robby’s parents.” even though they’ve made it clear I’m very much like a daughter to them. I still get warm fuzzies whenever I’m talking to his mom on the phone or leaving their house and she’ll tell me “I love you,Christina.” I’ve heard a lot about the horrors of in-laws but I was very lucky. Actually, I hit the jackpot. My husband’s side of our family is as close to that perfect cookie cutter family as you can possibly to get, and it’s nice to have that in my life now. That’s not to say I’d ever take back my wacky, dysfunctional, unpredictable family that I’ve always had. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It’s where I came from and who I am and I absolutely love the craziness of it all. It dawns on me that there’s so many different definitions for a family. They come in lots of different packages. There’s of course the family you’re born with but along the way, with both friends and significant others, there’s family you get to choose for yourself. Or maybe they choose you. Maybe it’s a nice mixture of both. Lucky for me, I adore both the family I was born into and the one I got to pick out myself.
This weekend I had the joy of spending the weekend with a couple of my favorite families. I spent the first part of my Sunday with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and niece (in law), and husband. I hadn’t seen any of them (well,albeit the husband. He’s around.) in way too long and it’s always nice to see the sane part of my family before taking a deep breath and spending the rest of the day with my side of the family. It’s a good balance. I go to my husband’s side of the family for normalcy and calm; I go to mine for the insanity. Rude, loud, fun…Insanity. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My original last name is Cirotto. There is a lot of pride in that last name.A lot of Italian temper. A lot of stubborn will,determination, and disagreements. My great grandpa died on Saturday afternoon and Sunday was his viewing. Not all of us could make it, but about a handful and a half made it out to say goodbye. I think others would find it a bit strange that as my great grandpa is laying lifeless on a table in the viewing home, we are all sitting in the same room and—bickering. About each-other, about him, about life. (My brother and I are the only ones who managed to keep our mouths shut and just watch everyone else with amusement)I think this is usually an appropriate time for everybody to just shutup and get along? Not my family. I think maybe he’d appreciate it though. Being my great-grandpa, he passed on most of this hard-headed pride. He died with it still in tact–it was the one thing he wouldn’t let go. I think it meant more to him than anybody or anything else ever would. I see that in a lot of other members of my family, I see it in myself. Pride has got to be the biggest downfall of the Cirotto’s. It’s amazing what, both good and bad, gets passed down from generation to generation. Made me think about what I don’t want to pass on to my children and my children’s children and so on. At the same time it made me appreciate my family, for all of their good and bad, faults and traits, weaknesses and strengths. Whether we all agree or not, we do love each-other more than I can put into words. There is a strange sort of comfort in being able to argue in a funeral home. It shows a relationship that, though faulty, is very real and tangible. It shows that through it all,we were still there. That’s what a family is, I guess. Not perfection or always getting along. It’s about being there through the imperfections and wanting to constantly punch one another in the face. That’s a family. That’s my family.
After the viewing, we decided it was time to eat. The decision on where to eat went back and forth for a while as we stood outside in the miserable heat. We had finally decided on Trulucks when my uncle, who decided it would be a good idea to wear shorts to a funeral home, decided he wasn’t dressed up enough. This is the same uncle who repeatedly told the joke “Hey….what kind of bees make milk?” ….”Boo-bies!” Throughout the entirety of our day. Another uncle is on the phone with us throwing out different suggestions. He suggested Cool River Cafe and though I’ve never been there, sounded good to me. Cool River. Sounds casual enough for shorts, right? No. It’s like a giant fancy cruise ship once you step inside. Everything is super expensive and there is a sign that reads something about only wearing nice clothes. I give uncle Tony’s shorts one more glance and can’t help but mentally laugh to myself. This should be fun. Luckily, the place is almost empty. (we thought it may have been closed at first but apparently it’s just dead on Sundays. I just realized dead on Sundays probably doesn’t sound like an appropriate term to use in this particular blog…) We sit down and after a few glasses of wine and me and my dad’s Jack and Cokes (It’s true, like father like daughter.)….the Cirotto legacy begins. The food is amongst the best I’ve ever had and this may be one of the fanciest places I’ve ever walked into, but that doesn’t keep my family any more subdued. It may have made them louder, in fact. There are loud conversations about that one time camping when all of the boys wouldn’t stop letting out gas. There are mini-wrestling matches. There is the usual conversation involving my sinful ways. (This time it’s because I watch Jersey Shore that I’m condemned to hell. Ever since I got married there are less ‘sins’ to pick on. Perhaps the worry now is that the show will inspire me to start sleeping around and fist pump in public?) There are arguments and debates and rude jokes aplenty, All in a volume where I occasionally long for a mute button. I do shrink into my seat a couple times throughout the night, but at the same time, I hold a lot of pride in my heart for all of these crazy people. You’d think by hearing all of this that I come from a family of trailer parks and missing teeth and second cousins marrying the other. On the contrary, my family has all done pretty well amongst themselves, owning businesses and managing and the like. We’ve got nice jobs, good houses, and pretty looking families. When separated, I know we’re all hardworking (another Cirotto trademark) and civilized human beings. It’s once we’re all around each-other that it gets a little wild. It may be the Italian or it may be the need to let loose around those we’re most comfortable around, I’m not sure. All I know is, though at times embarrassing, it’s freakin’ fantastic. I think perhaps the highlight of the night was when my 8 year old cousin Hannah took me to the bathroom to show off the mouthwash. She started pouring ‘sample cups’ for later bathroom goers, which I allowed (my first mistake.) She drinks out of one and puts it back down. I tell her “Hannah. Don’t do that. You’re going to give somebody your backwash.” She laughs and tells me “No,watch! This will be backwash.” She continues to fill another cup up with half-mouthwash and half-spit. I am absolutely disgusted at this point but try to reason with her. “Hannah..somebody could get sick if you do that.” To which she responds with a giggle “I don’t care! I’m not them!” I tell her I am highly questioning her altruism at this point and she laughs (obviously not caring for the meaning of one of my favorite words. Hmph.) and adds soap to her mixture. Trying to reason with an eight year old is hard work. Eventually we leave and I manage to throw away her concoction. She yells at me but I figure it’s worth saving somebody from a night on the toilet. If it was busy it is very possible we would have been immediately kicked out of this place. I’m thinking maybe Applebees next time? And half of us weren’t even there last night! Goodness. However much I tease, I love my family and everything that makes us who we are. Imperfections and Obnoxious farting conversations and mouthwash tricks and all.
Ps:There were ARMADILLOS outside of the restaurant. Lookit!