To celebrate my 50th birthday in May, we hosted an old school backyard house party, the likes of which was unimaginable not so many months ago. My dad, mom, step-dad, and brother traveled from Saskatoon to attend. My other brother and his family drove from Ottawa. My in-laws and brother and sister-in-law were there. Our closest friends joined us. My aunt and uncle and cousins came from Barrie and St. Catherines. So many of the people we love and haven’t spent nearly enough time with the past two years throughout the pandemic came together to eat, drink, and laugh together. It felt like yet another turning point in the world as there were no masks and no mention of Covid. Hugs, kisses, close talking, sharing, touching, all glorious. Ana planned a spectacular party complete with an outdoor movie screen, crazy party games (musical chairs, a fish pond, pelvic nylon orange racing, a violent balloon popping contest), a slideshow of photos, catered food, decorations and, of course, a pinata. When that pinata finally broke, who would have thought that a dozen adults would drop to the ground, scrambling to pocket as many rockets, tootsie rolls, and lollypops they could grab. My brother and sister-in-law brought the Slamski and a bottle of tequila for many rounds of shots, and curated an amazing music playlist. Among other fabulous alcoholic gifties, I was presented with an old man walker loaded up with 50 of the finest craft beers, one for each of my years of life, or perhaps one for each day of the summer? At one point I walked over to the trampoline to find nearly all of the teenagers snuggled in together with blankets and pillows, half-watching the movie on the giant screen, but mostly laughing and having fun. That made me so happy. I felt incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by all these people I love, and I felt incredibly privileged.
The next morning I found myself sitting on the back deck with my mom, dad, and two brothers. Just us, nobody else. Our, let’s say the “original” family. We were having coffee, and talking, and laughing. It felt…I don’t know what the word is. Soothing? Magical? Cathartic? Maybe just Wonderful? I was instantly transported back in time 25 years. The faces were older, but we were all the same. And still here. Still a family. But during those years this family has expanded so much, and so well, and we’ve all grown in so many ways, and traveled, and had experiences we never, ever could have imagined as a lower middle-class family living at 362 Pendygrasse Road in Saskatoon in the 1980’s. Just like I can never forget many of the important times we spent together as a family in that house, that moment with the 5 of us sitting together, in the beautiful sunshine, talking and laughing, will stay with me forever.
Life is good, man.