anyway. this is the preparation that took place before The Big Meet:
- intensive menu planning (mom opted for hot and cold hors d'oeuvres due to the size of the party)
- repainting of the front door (dad opted for a color called Sassy Red or something like that)
- fixing of the power room toilet (it needed some help flushing properly)
- purchasing of enough square and triangular plates to serve an army (can never be too prepared)
- approximately twelve trips to the grocery store
- the mixing and rolling of eight hundred Swedish meatballs
- two scrubbings of the kitchen floor (once on Friday by the cleaning lady, once on Saturday morning by dad, after mom finished cooking)
- lots of stashing and hiding of the papers and magazines and odds and ends that have no real home other than various countertops
there was, however, absolutely no freaking out by me or by either of my parents. this, i did not expect. i was prepared for an utter meltdown by one of us - that's just how we roll - but i am proud and relieved to say that we all held it together.
this is what it was like when Michael's family arrived, in a caravan of three cars carrying twelve adults and one baby: a steady stream of individuals coming up the front walk and kissing both my mother and me as they entered the house, one by one, each holding a fruit arrangement, a bottle of wine or a box of pastry.
i know all of them, i see all of them on a regular basis, and even i didn't think the parade would end.
my parents assigned Michael and i the roles of host and hostess (ie waiter and waitress) so that they could mix and mingle and get to know my future in-laws. this was an excellent idea, as my parents rarely get to enjoy themselves at their own shindigs. so we kept the food coming and the drinks flowing and i had two-second conversations with everyone present.
(my side of the family showed up about 15 minutes after Michael's. my contingency included my Uncle Tim, Aunt Joanne, cousin Alayne and her boyfriend Matt - and i believe felt like they walked into the wrong house. our get-togethers are typically mellow, decorous, small. this, by comparison, was like a KISS concert.)
there was lots of conversing, lots of laughing and lots of life story telling. at one point Michael's grandfather called my mom over to specially commend her for her baked clams...that was a momentous thing, considering Grandma Rose basically created baked clams. at another point, my Uncle Tim called me over to tell me that Irish and Italians make beautiful babies (he should know, he married my Italian Aunt Joanne.)
then, between the hot hors d'ouevres and dessert, as the frenzy was ebbing, we brought out Left, Right, Center. and this is when i knew everything was really gonna be OK. Aunt Fran and Uncle Tim were trash-talking, Aunt Joanne was flirting with Grandpa, Joelle was hugging Aunt Joanne every time she rolled the dice and my mother was actually celebrating every time she had a good roll. (she ultimately won the pot, which is probably against the etiquette rules but seems fair enough considering the eight hundred meatballs she made.)
looking around the table, i realized this was a group of people who'd known each other only a few hours and yet already seemed to regard each other as family. even though it's how i expected the event to go, it made my heart swell.
after we brought out the wide array of desserts and cut our M&M-sprinkled cake, the cavalcade had to hit the road. the goodbyes were only slightly less hectic than the hellos, but there were lots of "see you soon!" and "can't wait 'til next time!" and "be here when the pool's open!" my parents and i stood in the cold on the front porch as the cars pulled away, each one honking as it left. we laughed.
i admit to feeling some relief that it was over. i'm also not entirely sure i've caught up on sleep since. but mostly i'm happy that my two families finally met, and like each other as much as i like each of them.
it was a great start to what i think will be a great, great year.