The Palmetto House 2

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During the holiday break, I had the pleasure of spending time with my cousins at a wine and cheese party. It reminded me of days gone by at the Palmetto House when our laughter had gotten a bit too loud and the cracking on each other just a bit too much on point. And as a result of my aunts’ nerves snapping, we were sent to “the couch.”  Usually during Christmas dinner I barely have time to utter a hello before I am chasing, wrestling, reasoning, and fussing with my toddler who is not yet old enough to converse with the other cousins over whether “Santa Clause had been good to him.” When I see my cousins for dinner, they are adults carrying on adult conversations, punctuated with the adult laughter, teaming with their spouses, and giving children instructions before returning to their individual conversations. Every once in a while, the childhood teasing and laughter would break through and I would find myself looking at them wondering when was the exact point we all grew up. And I realize that I don’t really know them anymore. I may know their chosen profession, how many children they have, who their spouses are, but I no longer know the day-to-day of them.  What are the little things that makes them laugh? What have been some challenges they have had to face? What do they do in their spare time? And they don’t know the day-to-day of me. It’s something that can be found out in a brief conversation I suppose, but it is difficult to have one of those as I am searching for the right food for my toddler that won’t be politely (and sometimes not so politely) be handed back to me. While I try to treasure the moments when my younger son can fit snug in my lap, I am counting down the days when I can send him off with the other children with a plate and a toy in spite of his difference. Maybe then, I can have those conversations.

For my cousins’ wine and cheese party though, the children were thankfully left in the care of their grandparents (a very rare treat), and I was able to focus on the event itself. I even had a good time. Our family has changed somewhat, with those who are with us in spirit and the addition of spouses, but not really.  As we ate, drank, played games, and cracked on each other (the shade throwing has been somewhat super-sized over the years…), I didn’t see the adults we had become, but I could reflect on the memory of us as children. And as my husband sat in the room with me and the arguments began to crescendo in terms of the advantage gained over the latest parlor game, I wondered if he could even take a glimpse of what my life was like before I knew him. The party took me back to the times of the Palmetto House. Only we could no longer be sent to the couch (though a couple of us should have been.) And though the conversations were never had, I felt like I got to know my cousins a bit better. Like who has watched Frozen over and over and over and over again. Which one of us enjoys sports (and not the usual suspects). Who has scientific knowledge. Which one of us is smarter than credited. Who likes romantic comedy. Which one of us likes girl groups. Who is really competitive. Sense of humor in the most unlikely places). And maybe my cousins could catch a glimpse of me…

Although we were not in the physical Palmetto House, my grandmother’s house, the spirit of that house was inside of all of us. In the laughter and the loud talking.  In the joking and the shade-throwing. And most importantly, in the seats on the couch that should have been taken by all 😉 .

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