December 9 – Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)
There is one "party" that sticks out in my mind. It was the reception that Rogér's family in The Netherlands threw for us when we visited them this summer. While it may not have "rocked my socks off", it did blow my mind. Why? Because their incredibly warm welcome was unexpected, (at least by me), after the family drama that rained all over our engagement and wedding last year. Apologies in advance for my word spewage on this one.
It's way too much to explain all the details of the back story, but what it boils down to, is that a couple members of Rogér's immediate family persistently caused trouble over EVERY.LITTLE.THING related to our wedding and specifically, over me. Rogér and I were led to believe that we were also unsupported and severely frowned upon by ALL of his extended family in The Netherlands. The main reasons, (besides the obvious fact that Rogér and I don't really love each other and our 6 years together prior to our engagement had all been some sort of bad phase that they were nobly trying to save him from), being that our wedding was on a Sunday, in a location that was three hours further away than where they wanted it to be, and for us deciding not to make the super-easy, quick trip to visit them during our honeymoon...in Greece, (because it's not so hard for us to travel a little longer, and, honeymoons are the PERFECT time to meet and hang with a whole hoard of foreign-language-speaking extended family, who already don't like you, due partly to the totally legit reasons already given, but mostly for being the demise of Rogér and his family in general).
When we were finally in the financial situation and state of mind to take the trip to The Netherlands, it still came with a LOT of hesitation on my part. I should mention that here were some agreements that we had already made to ensure things wouldn't get too harry. We were ONLY visiting Rogér's dad's side of the family. We had actually planned on seeing his Oma on his mom's side, but when he called her one night to tell her we were going to Holland and would like to see her, she chewed him out for being a disgraceful son and grandson, so we decided not to. Go figure. And Rogér's melodramatic, needy, gossip-mongering sister was going to Holland at the same time, so we had a couple of Plan B's in case we needed to get out of there fast.
It was already hard for me to understand why Rogér's family would be so judgmental and demanding. I mean, don't they have better things to think about than my inadequacies and our relationship? But it became even harder to understand once we met up with the family, because from the moment we set foot on Dutch soil, we were greeted and treated like beloved and welcomed guests. Were they just putting on a show to our faces so they could bash us behind our backs? It didn't seem that way. It didn't seem like they had any reason to.
Rogér's youngest uncle had offered his house as a "home base" for us. He, and his wife and children, made sure that we were taken care of the entire time. He had also planned, with other family members, to throw us a little wedding reception during our visit. This was a sweet idea, but a little daunting, given the history. However, without any prompting from Rogér or I, his uncle and aunt sat with us the night before the reception and had a very-open hearted discussion with us about the wedding, and our relationship with each other and with the family. They talked candidly and honestly, and we went to bed knowing that these people did not, and had never harbored any negative feelings towards us. We suddenly could move forward, with the confirmation that the that the hateful things we had heard were coming from a few bitter mouths making mountains out of mole-hills.
The next evening was the reception. With the weight of judgment off my shoulders, I felt like I could actually enjoy meeting Rogér's family. Did I mention, he has a BIG family? Almost all the aunts and uncles and cousins and cousin's babies and boyfriends and girlfriends were there. We were served delicious Dutch finger foods, and even a cake with a picture of our engagement on it! All the cousins talked my ears off. They LOVED showing off their English! In fact, everyone had kind of given themselves a rule that they would only speak English so that I would not feel left out of any conversations, (which I found to be an incredibly nice gesture, although, I think it made it too easy for me to avoid practicing my Dutch!) His Oma on his Dad's side was also there; probably one of the sweetest ladies in the world, she spent almost the whole evening by my side, making sure that I was doing okay. We enjoyed wonderful food and converstation, and we got to share our wedding photo album with many of his aunts and cousins. I was having a great time, and I could see that Rogér was in Heaven. It had been too long since being in contact with all his family, but they reconnected like it had been no time at all.
It wasn't a big blowout party. But for us, it was HUGE. It was healing. It somehow gave Rogér and me some much needed permission to be who we are and to be happy for ourselves, even if some other people can't be.