Some people dislike major holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter... they don’t like them because it usually means that they have to go home and spend some time with their parents and siblings. Some people are judgmental and competitive and like to compare their lives to those of their extended family, and determine their own self worth by how well they are doing and how well their family members are doing.
Not my family. We recognize that we all have different strengths and abilities. One of my brothers can teach anyone to appreciate the mechanics of a sonata. The other can teach anyone to appreciate the mechanics of mechanics. And I’m always inflicting historical knowledge on my family members, like reasons why my dad’s ancestry DNA test came back 38% Scandinavian (VIKINGS!).
We have a good time when we get together, and it doesn’t always have to be on national holidays. We hang out, talk about stuff, make arrangements to hang out some more or watch each other’s kids when we want to go on a date with our spouses (or when we just want to chill with our siblings’ awesome kids). We also eat together (DUMPLINGS!) and partake of our parents’ wisdom.
Easter isn’t usually gorgeous and sunny, but this Easter was. While I was slaving in the kitchen to produce enjoyable food (a fusion of my mother-in-law’s culinary wizardry and the deliciousness that is my grandmother’s cooking), my brothers and husband escaped with a frisbee to the backyard. When I was finished, I looked around and found no one in the kitchen; my sister-in-law was feeding my nephew and my parents were playing with my daughters in the other room.
I went out in the backyard. “Hey!” I shouted. “Nice job leaving me to do all the work!” My husband objected with the observation that if he tries to help I shove him out and tell him he’s getting in the way anyway, which is a valid point, so I shrugged and joined in their game.
It was kickball. Sort of. It was “every man for himself” kickball. If you could get all the way around the “bases” (corners of the yard), you’d get a point for yourself, but if the guy in the middle got a point if he was able to get you “out,” either by catching the ball when you kicked it or by throwing it at you and hitting you with it. Oh, and there was no pitching, just the person who was “up” kicking the ball out of their own hand.
My nephew finished his snack and my sister-in-law brought him outside to enjoy the sunshine. My mom came out to watch the game, and sat on the bench under the tree making sure my three year old wasn’t getting into too much mischief. My dad watched from the driveway, with my one year old all bundled up in her jacket.
The rules of the game kept changing. “So if you kick it on the roof or over the fence into the driveway it’s a home run,” one of my brothers said, “and don’t chase the ball down the stairs because if you go too fast you’ll break your ankle,” the other added. “And if you kick it and someone else gets in, then you get half a point,” my husband decreed. “And if you hit a baby you’re out!” my mom shouted, as my one year old toddled across the middle of the yard.
The ball was terrible. It sat out in the yard all winter and was lopsided and half deflated and didn’t go where you wanted to when you threw it, even if you were a foot away from your fleeing husband. Kicking was problematic because of the tree branch that hangs across one side of the yard, not to mention the electrical wires that stretch from the pole on the other side of the fence to the house next door.
We had a great time. I’d kick the ball and take off as my brother or my husband went after it, and as I ran for the nearest corner of the yard that we’d designated as first base, I’d scream, whether my pursuer was nearby or not. My husband would make fun of me, making faces or taunting gestures at me. My brothers would pose dramatically before each kick, pointing off into the distance where they expected the ball to majestically arch, even though they knew it probably wouldn’t. Sometimes they’d point in two different directions. Mostly, we ran our butts off and had an awesome time.
The next day I sent my brother a text message: “HOLY CRAP I am so sore!” He texted back, “Me too, I have to keep stopping to stretch.” I responded, “We either need to never do that again or do it all the time.”
My family has a great time when we get together. Sometimes we sit and watch a movie, sometimes we hang out and talk about electric vehicles, and other times we make up a game and run around in the yard getting muddy and displaying how out of shape we are. It doesn’t matter what we do, we always enjoy hanging out with family, even on days that it’s yucky and cold out.
But it’s always more fun when it’s a fine day for FareBall.