"I think the family is the place where the most ridiculous and the least respectable things in the world go on." Ugo Betti
When you come from a large family, with extensions to the left, right and center, things have a tendency to turn surreal. Just when you thought you have cemented cracks with an industrial-strength dose of high drama while singing "If We Hold On Together," for example, a daughter-in-law packs her bags and suddenly war the magnitude of tribal proportions breaks out.
Although my nuclear family has steered clear of the war, it amuses us no end how something as trivial as a Christmas star can trigger catfights, scathing text messages, another daughter-in-law flying the coop and yes, a divorce. We look back at the many "episodes" in the past: the day uncles and aunts from the "third family" carted off everything [yes, even the kitchen knife] from Grandpa's house; the day uncles and aunts from the first and second families fenced out Third Wife's grave from the family mausoleum; the day Youngest Tita pulled off a performance worthy of an Oscar because, well, because her birthday was coming up and no one has greeted her ... yet.
In a few days, the family will again gather for the wake for an uncle. Everyone's on edge. Will the warring tribes clash yet again? Or will there be hugs and kisses and fireworks over starry skies? Who gets front-row seats and who minds the protocol? Will there be, perhaps, another "community" singing of "If We Hold on Together?"
On his deathbed, the uncle--and he was the family comedian, too--said that he'd bring the family together. And when his kids opened the radio after he died, guess what was playing? Surreal, but it was that song.