October 28, 2015

Family Culture - or - I Think We Might Be Weird

We have a bonus child this semester.  Our niece Rachel is living with us, making us a family of seven.  

She is the daughter of David’s oldest brother Dan.  David and I are blessed with awesome siblings all around, and we’ve always enjoyed good times when we’re together with our extended family. 
Rachel is a delight to have.  It’s been so fun getting to know her.  However, having her here has made me realize something: our family is weird. Not Rachel, but us. 

Have you ever been clicking along, living your life, thinking you're perfectly normal, and then someone stays with you and you become keenly aware that maybe your little "habits" are actually "quirks"?

With Rachel here, I am seeing us through her eyes, and realizing we might be a tad weird. Take dinner time.  We use cloth napkins and everyone has their napkin ring and each ring has a dumb name – like “the one ring” and “turtle” and “genuine diamel.” And even with all those fun napkin rings, I'm still barking at people to put their napkins in their laps. Because it may be 95 degrees in the living room, but we're going to eat like civilized people. This is normal to us, but must seem bonkers to Rachel.
Basket of napkins

Then there’s the whole how do you pass food, get seconds, season your food, what do you drink, what do you talk about, what rules of good manners are steadfast, what devices are allowed (NONE), who cooks, and who does dishes.

How we divide jobs between David and myself. What our Sunday afternoons look like.  Having friends over for supper. How we interact with our pets.
David and Charley "playing." (No animals were injured during this photoshoot)

Our movie quotes. I’m sure she’s wondering why the phrases “and beneath the man you find his…nucleus” and “this chicken is special, Alice” seem so funny to us. But once she sees “Nacho Libre” and “Hockey Night” she’ll know.  Movie quotes become part of a family's  vernacular.

What I pack for lunches.  The music we listen to, or rather, the music that our deejay Carter has us listen to.  Shoes on or off in the house. Our bedtime rituals.

She has a front-row seat to our life, with all the junk included.  The sibling squabbles, the disagreements, the attitudes.  Zoe and her pig calls. The awkward dancing to Twenty-One Pilots. 

So in addition to learning about Indonesian and Papuan culture, Rachel is learning to adapt to our version of Holsten family culture.

What about you?  What family quirks do you have?