Thursday, 27 September 2012

My dys-FUN-ctional family

My dys-FUN-ctional family
27 September 2012

You know how you get those big happy type American families that you see on those feel good type movies?  You know the type.  Normally large family, fairly meddling and interfering in each other’s lives, slightly dysfunctional, close, but they enjoy spending time together and are always there for each other no matter what.  It’s kind of like “Dan in real life”, meets “Brothers and Sisters”, meets “The Family Stone”, meets “Parenthood” type thing.

Well it seems like I hit the jackpot and got the mother lode, because my family is exactly like that - except for the American accent or course.  No seriously, I’m not kidding.  Those of you who know me well can vouch for that.  Perhaps it’s less of a family than a force of nature or an invasion squad, depending on your perspective.

And at the helm there are two indomitable forces.  My Ouma Helene, a grand old dame of 82 and my Oupa Willem, an 83 year old rapscallion.  And for the rest it is a very large melting pot of all different ages.  My family covers a whole spectrum of life’s little drama’s – it’s like a giant mixed bag of all sorts.  We’ve got recovering alcoholics, various fields of employment, there have been a few divorces and relationship breakdowns, financial hardships are a recurring theme, step children (fondly called bonus children), everyone passionate about family, artistic and musical creativity etc., etc., etc.  All dynamic people.  All slightly quirky with unique interests.  Not a single boring one in the lot.  And barring a few misses, we have all been extremely lucky in love.  So we’re not well off, but at least we’re all with someone that we really love.  Which is infinitely more important. 

But without a doubt the glue that holds the whole big family together is love.  I know it sounds corny, but it actually happens to be true for us.  And apart from the love, there is a huge dollop of like as well.  We like each other.  We really, really do.  Everyone is different.  No one is judgemental.  Everyone is welcomed, loved, equally important and valued for who they are.  Irrespective of age, size, shape, financial standing, employment or accomplishment. 

We truly are the most amazing bunch of people.  We thoroughly enjoy spending time together – and lots of it.  We arrange large scale family get-togethers at the drop of a hat, for no particular reason, apart from the fact that it’s nice to see each other and hang out together.  We get together at my grandparent’s home, Cloetenberg, the family holiday house, called Kleinbaai, or my mom’s house in Tulbagh, called Muisnes.  We spend every Christmas and New Year together.  We celebrate life together - birthdays, weddings, christenings, graduations, engagements, births, shows, achievements, successes, even death.  Why we had the biggest jol at my Dad's memorial/wake.  So technically he wasn’t really there to witness it, which was a bit of a pity, because he would have simply loved all of the faffing and the grand send off.  I estimate that we were about 300 people in total.  And forever after we’ve called it his celebration as it was a celebration of his life and the awesome person that he was.  There was live music, various bands and an exhibition of some of his magnificent art work.  We even made a video – bizarre hey?  No, for us it’s pretty normal.

We have what we call “International Lombard Day” on the 26th of December every year – when long lost cousins, second cousins, great uncles and aunts, basically anybody and everybody even remotely attached to the family have a giant celebration.  We usually do this at my grandparents home and the format is usually a large picnic on the lawn.  Everyone brings food and drinks and we literally continue to eat, drink and be merry for the duration of the day and night.  Music always plays a large part of any celebration. 

Everyone spends loads of time on the giant swing in the garden – adults and kids alike.  It is a one-of-a-kind swing.  And always a source of attraction.  And many an adult spends time giving the little kids a push.  It is hung from a huge beautiful tree and we all love it.  There is always a giant cricket match as well where all the boys and kids of all ages participate.  The gals sit on the stoep, on benches in the garden or lounging on blankets in the garden.  There are a few monstrously big trees in the garden and lying in the dappled sunlight has an involuntary eyelid drooping effect.  There is lots of exploration in the magnificent garden.  All around there is chatting and laughing.  Much exchange of banter and stories.

In the background there is always the buzzing sound of “sonbesies” – not sure what they’re called in English.  The downstairs dining room table, invariably groans under all of the food.  And once we’ve “dealt” with lunch, the treats come out and the table groans once more.  There is a continuous ebb and flow of people – as more seem to arrive all of the time.  With the occasional one departing for some or other reason.  We really value these days spent together and appreciate the togetherness that we as a family are fortunate enough to experience.

None of us are perfect.  We know this.  But we accept each other - warts and all.  Ouma Helene has a motto, which is "take the best and forget about the rest".  And what that boils down to is this - that everyone has good points and bad points.  So focus on the good.  Celebrate it and enjoy it.  Gloss over the bad.  The good always outweighs the bad.  You can make yourself very, very unhappy by concentrating on that which you can't change in others.   So yip, none of us are perfect.  But we like it that way.  It makes us human and interesting and we all know - I simply can't do boring. 

I absolutely adore my dys-FUN-ctional family!  And wouldn’t swop them for all the earthly riches in the world. 

A "little" Muisnes get-together
A "little" Cloetenberg get-together
A "little" Kleinbaai get-together

1 comment:

  1. Hi, wat 'n stunning blog! Ek ken jou suster Katrine en sy het so 'n pragtige lewende karakter en kan my net indink dat jul hele familie ook so is, wat 'n voorreg om dit te he!