The following day was fully fun-filled and family-oriented. We managed to pack it all in, seeing my parents, both of their families, as well as some friends in the evening. The morning consisted of a quick (and very early for a lady who had had several cocktails the night before) breakfast with my Father's relations. There is a diner a town away from us that we have frequented for a few years now. It offers a very cheap menu with fantastically sized portions, and is always served by an amazingly sassy old Irish woman who takes no crap from anyone but is actually super motherly and kind at heart. A perfect and wonderful stereotype brought to life. We had our fill of victuals and said our see you soon's, always wishing we could see each other more than once or twice a year, but thoroughly embracing the times that we do.
Very little time elapsed before we had to head straight to our Mother's family festivities. Now, just as with any family, we all have our quirky relations and tricky relationships. As my mother was one of 9 children, there are always different personalities and opinions flying about. The Christmas celebration in recent years has been taking place at my Aunt's house which has a massive backyard and a deck adjoining their garage, so several of us more sordid folk often take to the deck for our afternoon refreshment. That is to say, an older Uncle or Cousin usually has various forms of libation to offer, and we hilariously create our little cocktail club outside. This year was particularly perfect because the sun was out, warming us during our merriment, and almost everyone indoor and out remained in relatively good humor throughout the day. A couple of quick cliffsnotes: One of my sisters and I had a race to the fence separating our Aunt and Uncle's yard from the neighbors, resulting in me winning (with my superior Santa 10k running skills) and my poor little baby sissy soo wiping out entirely in the mud. The goods news is that she really didn't get that muddy all things considered, the bad news is that she was sort of achey for a couple of days and tragically, no one witnessed the incident other than myself. There was also another hysterical situation involving my nephew and young cousin continually trying to take my boots off of me while I was standing in them. This may have had to do with the fact that I coveted my cousin's boots and had already stolen them first. Details, details. The final big moment, however, was when my Mother insisted that we finally get a group photo of my siblings slash nephew, something that we really haven't accomplished in a few years.
Now, a bit of a preface regarding my siblings is that they really are the heart and soul of my being. We are not the type of brothers and sisters that talk every day or hang out every night, but we are the type that would walk through fire for each other and when we are together, that 6th sense sort of ridiculousness ensues. I actually recall one of my first great crushes in college coming to see me and/or my brother in a play. After watching the show and meeting my fam, he admitted that he finally understood me a whole lot better. It's certainly a spectacle in and of itself when we are ensemble, as witnessed in the chronology of pictures below. As we bring up young Nephew as part of the herd, he is clearly raised to the height of célébrité, almost Simba-style in his reverence.
Which of course made it difficult to leave them for my evening antics, but since I was off to meet two of my oldest friends from childhood, I knew I was in good hands. The quartet of friends I am a part of from growing up includes myself and the three girls I ran around in Ireland with last year. Two are married and live in the States while one is Dancer friend in Ireland and of course myself here in Paris. Unfortunately, only three of us could get together this particular night, though happily I was able to see the 4th for a quick coffee the previous afternoon. Regardless, we have developed a tradition of going to "The Cheesecake Factory" when we can. This place is basically the mecca of all American cuisine presented in obscenely large portions and filled with absurd amounts of fat. That of course means it is the hottest spot in town, and on a Saturday night meant we had about an hour and half wait at the bar. We had anticipated this, however, and had zero problem settling in for a cocktail or two before sitting down. It also gave us ample time to catch up and laugh hysterically as we pretty much always do.
I have long since come to learn that there is no word in French for "sibling", or at least not one that is commonly used in any way. Many languages refer to brothers or sisters, but not the collective idea of both. In some ways, I find this not only cumbersome linguistically, but sadly disappointing because there is a special bond that comes with siblings as a unit. Siblings are the people that know you better than anyone, whether they extend from the same gene pool or not. My blood related siblings (Nephew absolutely included) are amongst the people I would easily drop anything for. But I also have a wide network of friends and family, all of whom I share a similar bond to, loving each other, accepting each other, and knowing each other without explanation. I have to say, it was a pretty good day.