Family Reunion…A Celebration of Marriage

There was a migration of hundreds of McGuires last weekend, and all because of Richard P. McGuire and his wife Margaret.  Every five years, the family descends upon the small farming community of Wisner, Nebraska.  The weekend is spent  connecting with immediate and extended family, relearning or being introduced to the history that defines us, and feeling genuinely connected to something much bigger than any of us.

At the Sunday Mass, a couple from another branch of our family celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.  We were all witness to the renewal of their vows, and for me, it was one of the more touching moments of the day.  Sixty years!!  Are you kidding?  It reminded me that no one in that room would have been sitting there had it not been for the decision by Richard P. McGuire to marry Margaret McMahon.  In six short generations, there are enough people to fill an auditorium every five years.

The family operates on a constantly changing bell curve.  The older generations are smaller each time while the younger generations often grow with marriages and children.  The generation pictured below is the fourth generation.  This is the group that should include my dad, but he was not there and, barring a miracle,  he will likely never be able to attend another one of the McGuire reunions.  For me, my closer connections are my dad’s four brothers.  It is through them I feel woven into this group.  It is through them that my son learned about who his grandfather used to be, and it is though them that I will forever have pride in my Irish family.

I don’t imagine that R.P. and Margaret were perfect, nor that their children led lives free of mistake, but I took several minutes over the weekend to look around at the room they had created, and I couldn’t help but to think that they had done something right.  They loved well enough, they passed down a strong pride in heritage and the people in that room had an air of open generosity that is well-worth celebrating.

My brother, (pictured below) and his wife are expecting their first child, and he/she will be the only “McGuire” baby in my immediate family.  As my brother stood and contemplated the headstone of his great-great grandfather, I said a short prayer in thanks for all that marriage can do.

The marriage of my great-great- grandparents is ultimately responsible for my children.  How could I ignore what that means?  I am so grateful for the willingness of this family to continue to gather.  How else could I foster in my kids the kind of pride that encourages Big Sprout to sport an “I’m proud to be Irish” button while embracing his second-cousin-once-removed (or however he’s related to the son of my dad’s first cousin)?

It was a wonderful reunion and I think we all feel a bit more grounded after the McGuire reunion weekends.  I recognize the miracle of those who remain and continue to want to organize, but I celebrate the power of marriage to do wondrously miraculous things too.

Chickening Out

I swear on a stack of Bibles that this really happened to us tonight…because really, who can make this stuff up?

“What do you want for dinner?” I unenthusiastically ask.

“I don’t care. What do you want for dinner?” My husband echoes with indifference. “Do you feel like Chinese?”

“No!” The biggest yells from the backseat, “I just had Japanese for lunch.”

“I want a restaurant.” The littlest voice pipes in from her car seat.

“You just want chicken nuggets…and we have some of those at home.“ I point out.

“No, I want a restaurant,” she insists.

“What are you going to order at the restaurant?” I query.

“I want…(dramatic pause) chicken nuggets.” She answers honestly.

So, the decision is made that my husband and I are going to get something for us and we would cook nuggets for the kids at home. We pass a sign on the highway for a chicken joint that we used to frequent, years ago, but we often laughed about the fact that they never really had the chicken that we ordered.

“We’d like the 8-piece chicken meal, mostly drumsticks please.” My husband yells out the window.

“Spicy or mild,” the box squawks.

“Mild, please.”

“So 3-piece chicken meal?”

“No, 8-piece meal with mostly drumsticks please.”

“A 2-piece meal?”

“No,” he looks over baffled at me as I try to stifle my giggles. “An 8-piece meal with mild drumsticks.” He enunciates.

“Come to the window please.” The frustrated woman requests.

As we drive around the corner, we cannot help but to laugh at how ridiculous that attempt at a fast-food order was. We get to the window and the woman pulls on her headset explaining that she cannot hear very well. We place our 8-piece order once again and she leaves the window for a minute.

“We only have 3 pieces of chicken right now. It will be 12 minutes for the rest of the order.” She explains.

“I think we should just go get something else.” I lean toward the car window to say.

My husband thanks me for making the decision to abandon the ill-fated trip to the chicken restaurant that too frequently does not have chicken, and we belly laugh all the way back to the highway. As entertaining as our attempt to get chicken was, we are back to our dilemma of needing to find some food for dinner. We head toward our temporary condo home and eventually decide on another fast food restaurant that is one of our favorites. It is known for its chicken bols and burritos and we get excited about our change of craving.

The kids and I stay in the car as my husband heads in with my order. I find myself talking with the kids and I realize that my husband has been gone longer than would be expected. I glance toward the door and I don’t see him headed toward the car, but I note that there are a lot of people in the restaurant. I chat a little longer with the kids and then, sans husband, I look back at the door and I find him silhouetted by one of the windows.

I joke with my oldest, “If they are out of chicken, I will absolutely die.”

Several more minutes pass and eventually my husband emerges with a bag of food and a look of utter disbelief.

He shakes his head as he gets back in the car, saying, “Well, I’m not sure what we’ve got in here, but the good news is, I didn’t pay a dime for it. Unbelievably, they ran out of chicken.”

“What? You have got to be kidding! That is nuts!” I laugh.

My husband told me that he had ordered our dinner and when it was apparent that they were not going to have enough chicken for our order, the restaurant employee offered my husband beef instead, and now, completely out of principle, he told the worker that we were really planning on being able to have chicken for dinner. After he was told that he would have to wait ten minutes, the manager informed my husband that our dinner would be free, and for all the effort that we went through for our chicken, it only seems right.