Growing up, I was surrounded by family — I couldn’t escape family if I wanted to. Summer days were spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s and once a week I mowed Aunt Martha’s lawn next door. Cousins and aunts and uncles came to every birthday I can remember. Same with Christmas and Thanksgiving — everyone was there, nuclear and extended. My childhood memories are full of extended family.
Charlotte’s extended family has always been about four hours away and her childhood is pretty different from ours in this respect. Fortunately, tradition and ritual can fill in gaps created by distance. And so Charlotte’s extended family consists of a bunch of kids 30 years older than she is. They’ve included her in everything. Birthday parties. Dinner parties. Game nights. They meet on the picnic blanket every October 2. And, of course, lobster.
Lobsterfest, our annual summer tradition, feels more like Thanksgiving every year in this regard. Familiar. Familial. More than ever, I’m grateful for our small circle of friends that have bridged the span between family, made us a part of their rituals, and embraced our family as if it was their own.