A Fitz Family Gathering

My Irish Catholic side of the family reconvened this year for a pre-Thanksgiving bash at The Ranch. For exactly 24 hours, more than 65 Fitz-somethings gathered to eat, drink, sing, four wheel a random collection of vintage machines, drink, shoot weapons(I never said we were smart Irish Catholics), drink and perform. The strange finality of it all resulted in happy goodbyes and only one lukewarm screaming match. This year paled in comparison to past blowouts, crashed cars and broken bones. Contrary to our roots, my family is not the Irish whiskey type. But what they lack in traditional drink they more than make up for in wine, Vodka, swimsuit drag queens and live karaoke performances. I've finally reached a point in my life where I revel in these gatherings. I anxiously anticipate the perfect mix of young and old in a sprawling farmhouse against the backdrop of rolling hills. I love the smell of mingled perfumes, Uncle Jim's oak bbq, cherished memories, cattle, warm pumpkin pie, fresh squeezed lime in the cocktails, dusty boots and avocados. I love the way the house swells with conversation, often bursting with laughter, how there's always a crowd gathered at grandpa's bar. I love the way the children shoot out of the doors like firecrackers and music spills from the piano like sweet, velvety syrup. I love the sunset on Grandma's back porch, the rusty candelabra over her outdoor table, the whir of golf carts racing through the orchards, piled high with giggling cousins, the horseshoe pits beckoning from the shade of an old oak tree. The sweet smell of garden roses, the whinny of a horse, the crackle of the fire pit, strong coffee wafting through the air.

When the sun slipped beneath the horizon, a stage was lit for lifetime performances this family would not live down (or live without). There was a simulated family road trip, where 7 siblings-most seasoned grandparents themselves- lined up folding chairs and invited their 90 year old mother to sit at the helm of an imaginary station wagon on her own candlelit porch. They handed her a mug of Irish Whiskey(apparently an authentic driving prop back in their childhood) and led the entire family on a bumpy, and albeit loud ride down memory lane singing, "Over the river and through the woods to Lake Nacimiento we go...HEY!" chiming in with knee slapping quotes and memories of their chaotic and colorful childhood. My family is a varied collection of performers, artists, musicians, lovers, livers and intellects with a thirst for adventure. The final act involved five young men dressed in women's swimsuits with rolled socks stuffed in all the wrong places. Cameras flashed, jaws dropped, the crowd joyously cheered in loving adoration as these muscle bound queens flounced and posed, swinging scarves and tossing their gloves into the air.
And for those of you who read last year's account of my family's annual pre-Thanksgiving bash (see "Best Posts of 2007") my drunk recovering alcoholic aunt gave an encore acoustic performance into the wee hours of the night...or so I heard. When John and I rallied the kids for breakfast the next morning, half the crowd was pirate eyed, disheveled and gripping coffee mugs like their life depended on it. Apparently, old Auntie rocked Janis Joplin's greatest hits with her guitar and trusty vocals well past midnight, to the tune of an unappreciative packed house. Some things never change.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can see it all....you gave a perfect description....thankfully you are still doing these reunions and most everyone is still there. I want to see pictures of the swimsuit group...I can guess who was in it.

Luv Ya...Neighba