(The first from the backlog of posts I meant to write in August.)
Several weeks back, my parents hosted what has become an annual event the past three years: the crab feast.
(Often mistakenly called crab fest by guests–but crab fest in Maryland is a whole other thing.)
They do this instead of hosting a Christmas party or a barbecue. It’s about what it sounds like: steamed Maryland blue crabs, beer, and a metric ton of potluck dishes. And about fifty/sixty of our nearest and dearest.
Aunts, uncles, cousins. Neighbors. Childhood friends. High school friends. College friends. Former coworkers. Members of my sister’s now-disbanded Rocky Horror shadow cast troupe. Everyone’s significant others. Family of friends. This year, dogs.
It rained this year, not so much that it spoiled things but it did mean everyone spent a lot more time inside. It was the best kind of chaos.
You would think, maybe, that that many different people wouldn’t get along or least would fail to socialize and intermingle. No so. Pretty much everyone talked to everyone. And it wasn’t always small talk. Politics. Science. Religion.
And as far as I can tell, everyone had a good time.
I’ve written before that I think limiting the idea of family to people related to you by blood and marriage is pretty archaic. Families are jumbled, constructed things. They are what we make them, especially as we get older.
Crab feast is our family reunion. Sure, not everyone makes it and sometimes that’s the only opportunity you get to see certain people in a given year. But then, that’s how reunions work. That’s how families work.
I have to give credit for a lot of this to my parents. Anyone you bring around, they welcome. Anyone you bring around enough, they adopt. The family keeps getting bigger. And it’s multigenerational and multiracial and queer and straight and genderqueer and interfaith and areligious and multipartisan.
And crazily, it still works.
(The crabs help, too.)