December 30th, 2005

little review

Poem for Friday

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Another full day -- had no vehicle so was stuck in the house with the kids, doing laundry, unpacking, trying to catch up on notes, work, etc. At dinnertime and in the evening, we had the annual family Chanukah party at the home of my cousin Stephanie and her family -- all my local relatives attend this, including various second cousins and cousins-by-marriage, though it was obvious from the Christmas party photos being passed around that we missed their larger family gathering to which everyone but us and my parents get invited. I can't decide whether to be flattered that they have a Chanukah party at all when the Jewish traditions obviously don't mean much to any of them -- none of them know the blessings, story, etc. -- or whether to wish we were invited to what is obviously their "real" holiday celebration with a larger crowd. My cousin-by-marriage who was a columnist for The Washington Post for many years left early for a bridge tournament, the hostess' husband hid in his living room most of the evening, I spent most of my time talking to my 18-year-old Wesleyan freshman and 20-year-old Tufts sophomore cousins rather than their parents, my kids were rambunctious.

Despite being small, it was also very nice in that it's the 60th wedding anniversary of my great-uncle and aunt (my grandfather's brother and his wife). We had brought donut holes for Chanukah -- there were also latkes, though I mostly ate excellent broiled salmon for dinner -- but the main dessert was a chocolate cake with a great many candles celebrating this milestone. The teenage cousins went down the basement afterward to play ping-pong and I sat around feeling weird, as I am right in the middle age-wise of everyone; my younger son is the youngest child there, the nearest boy in age is the 18-year-old, the girls are first cousins and very close, and although my cousin Debbie has children who straddle my own, she is 12 years older than I am, as I married at 23 and she at nearly 40. We always have entertaining discussions about pop culture though -- tonight my 16-year-old cousin Alice was extolling the virtues of The O.C., my great-aunt was singing the praises of the new film of Pride and Prejudice (she's an Austen fanatic) and Stephanie and I were discussing Brokeback Mountain, which short story I just sent her. I like all these relatives but they are all closer with one another than they are with my parents or us, and sometimes I feel awkward, like we are included out of a historic sense of obligation rather than any sense of relation.

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Friday we are going to Baltimore to multiple venues, one of which, the Dime Museum, is closing forever at the end of the year, while the Museum of Art has an exhibit on Monet's London which is leaving after the weekend. (Sons have been bribed to cooperate at another art museum because this one serves afternoon tea, which they loved in England.) We will probably also go to the aquarium since it's open late on Friday -- I don't know whether we can get into the new exhibits without advance tickets, but just standing by the ray tank always relaxes me and we are members so I know we can do that.