Until two years ago, I lived within the bubble of the quintessential large, Irish, Catholic family. My grandparents had risen from an impoverished city life to provide for my mom and her five brothers in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Their children lived the typical life you find in many movies depicting the 1960s. I've heard their stories so many times I feel like I could tell them with almost as much detail and clarity as if I'd lived them myself.
They grew up, married, and became an extended group of best friends. Twenty years later, my mom's closest friends are her sister-in-laws. And I grew up cocooned within the laughter.
Until two years ago that is. When in a single year, two of my uncles revealed to the family that they had been sleeping with other women. I like to call them the tarts. Needless to say the walls within our little family -- who up until this point, had never seen a divorce, separation, or other marital strife -- began to quickly crumble.
Since then not much has been the same. There has been much tip toeing, many arguments, much soothing, and lots of skirting the subject. Nights with my aunts now must be planned weeks in advance. Holidays lack the entertaining spark they used to hold. And my uncles have become strangers I just happen to know well, but prefer not to at this time.
And while Easter is one of those holidays I used to look forward to not only for the chance to eat myself nauseaus with chocolates, pies, and meats, and drink myself silly with the endless bottles of wine, but to spend a great time with my family.
This year was a bit tense. I used the excuse of filling my empty wine glass as a way to leave the room, which incidentally had me taking larger gulps than usual. Big gulps, huh?
It was tense because my aunts were noticeably missing, my mom was noticeably missing them, Uncle #1 was noticeably dropping the name of his tart, and Uncle #2 had the gall to actually bring his tart with him. Ugh.
But then something happened. Maybe it was the seven glasses of wine, or the fact that Uncle #2 and tart had to leave to get the kids back to their respective ex's before dinner, but Easter dinner itself was incredibly fun again.
And after an hour of laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face while listening to my Poppop describe all the ways he's had a doctor shove something up his butt in the past year, I felt like some things with my family would never change.
Like, for example, our affinity for butt stories.