Birthday, 2012

Family PicturesMy birthday was in February. It was a round number year so I thought about a party. But a party in February–we’d all be inside and at the mercy of the weather. A July BBQ was a much better idea. I started off thinking I’d invite about 75 close friends and family, but by the time May rolled around, we had carpenters and painters, Sarah in Paris for a week, and just too much work. So I uninvited the friends and turned it into a party for my family, some of whom had already made reservations or canceled other things for me.

Needless to say, it poured, forcing us all inside. Sarah decided on no plastic cups so we served the Prosecco and microbrew beer in our flutes and pilsners and the food on our collection of plates and bowls. I made a beef brisket, ribs, salmon, and some dishes my grandmother used to make: chopped eggplant (roast till soft, chop with some onions and mild oil) and onion and tomato salad (updated to include cucumbers–seeds scooped out a la Hannah and avocado chunks) dressed only in vinegar. My cousin said it was the first time he’d had chopped eggplant since our grandmother died. The brisket–done with the Texas Crutch–was closer to  Sunday brisket than Texas smoked, but soft as butter and killer tasty. My friend Paul volunteered (!) to be my sous and without him, we just couldn’t have pulled off the food. He made most of the dips as well, which everyone loved. The playlist ran from 60s singles to New Orleans, fados to guitar, Kronos Quartet to Taylor Swift. No one got to hear it–you can either hear the music or hear the partygoers, but I’ll put it on Dropbox for the family.

What made the party so good was that my two families had not really met each other over the years. My brother’s kids had never been to Massachusetts, my cousins had never met Sarah’s kids, let alone our grandkids. Our kids had only met my sister, who visits regularly and the bro who has been to several parties. It meant a great deal to me to take my niece to the top of Mt Sugarloaf (the one in Sunderland) to show off my neighborhood. It meant a lot to have my cousin Beth Ann meet my family since she is eager for pictures and news. My Mom shone, party animal that she is. As I said, it was nice to get everyone together for something besides a funeral.

It stopped raining long enough for some group pictures, a poem by my aunt and my speech. Hey, if you eat my food, you gotta listen to my words.

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