A Family Gathers. Will the Children Break Their Heads?

The day my brother flew back to Kansas City, Todd and I drove to Angel Fire, New Mexico. Bradleys from Texas and Colorado were meeting there for a family reunion.

From Friday morning until Monday night, I was with at least one person. That’s unusual for me. I spend most days working in my office, either editing or writing on my computer. In fact, I spend so much time alone that by Friday night, I’m ready to go out just as Todd begins to savor being at home for two days.

And it was rainy and cool all weekend. So there were 12 adults and 12 kids in two houses. A recipe for disaster, you say?

It wasn’t. I like being in a crowd, but I tend to stay near the edge, watch events, move from person to person. There’s so much going on I find it hard to concentrate.

In the past, I’ve blamed myself for not being a cocktail party playah. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve accepted my tendency to withdraw, find a way to be by myself, even when surrounded by people. It’s my way of resting in plain sight.

What I liked best was the swirl of children. There were two groups of four from two families, one group of three from another, and one new boy, my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s son. I got to hold the newest baby several times, and she was kind enough not to cry when passed around from person to person.

My favorite part was watching the four-year-olds play together. Ring around the rosy (the adults warned them about hitting their heads against the rock hearth). Hiding in a nook under the coffee table. Head-butting the sofa (the adults worried about their brains spilling out before they managed to grow up).

In between were meals and the fixing of meals and the cleanup of meals, trips to Taos on a festival weekend, and one muddy hike. The schedule went out the window, mostly thanks to the weather.

The most shocking moment came when my brother-in-law, who organized the reunion, declared, ā€œI am not a team player.ā€ He was reminiscing about how much he had hated team-player activities in school and how he only participated because he had to. I had always thought he was a team player. And I, who never was a team player either, was stunned someone had the courage to say that out loud.