PANDEMONIUM (pan-duh-moh-nee-uh m)


I come from a large family… a very large family. My maternal grandparents had 13 children; who, in turn, married and gave them 44 grandchildren. Although my paternal grandparents couldn’t compete with that, they did produce four children and 12 grandchildren of their own.

In addition to myriad aunts, uncles and cousins, I also have two brothers and two sisters; and I can honestly say that I love them all (most of the time anyway). As I live many miles away from most of them, I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like, but when we do get together it is pandemonium. And we love it that way.

PANDEMONIUM: verb, wild uproar or unrestrained behavior; a place or scene of riotous uproar or utter chaos; a state of extreme confusion and disorder; tumult or chaos

It’s not that everyone in the family is… shall we say “an extrovert,” but if you ever spot a shy person at one of our gatherings, it’s a good bet that he or she is an in-law. And, once the shock of meeting our clan starts to wear off, even those who married into our family have a way of becoming “loud and proud” too.

Please don’t get the wrong idea. To my knowledge none of us has ever been asked to leave a restaurant or any other public establishment, but what I can tell you is that our party will always be the rowdiest in the place. Everyone will be talking at once (the ability to participate in several simultaneous conversations is in our DNA), and getting increasingly louder as we try to be heard over the ongoing eruptions of laughter. I’m talking robust, milk-comes-out-of-your-nose, belly laughs here. (A recent example that comes to mind is a “chick’s luncheon” that my sister, Julie, and I hosted last month. I think this photo of our favors will give you an idea of what kind of crowd we had.

POLE-DANCINGIn our defense, however, we are always very conscientious about warning our servers and nearby diners/patrons that our family is on the premises. To our delight many of them “voluntarily” join us in our revelry, which, as you can imagine, just encourages even more outlandish behavior. Actually, on reflection, I’ve often thought that it must feel sort of like being in the front row at a Gallagher performance to these poor, unsuspecting souls.

Whenever I tell my husband about a particularly wild family event that I was lucky enough to be a part of, I usually close by telling him how much fun I had and how much I miss everyone. He invariably looks at me like I just stepped off the Mothership. You see, he has only one brother, and very few cousins. While he loves my family very much, he simply cannot fathom what it would be like to be a part of such a big one. And I, on the other hand, cannot imagine having only one sibling and so few cousins that I could count them without writing down all their names!

But one thing we do see eye-to-eye on is that, no matter how wild and crazy they may be (and how crazy they can make you at times!), you can always count on your family; and that the love and support of its members is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

GEORGE-BURNSHere are some additional thoughts on families… for better or for worse.

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family…in another city.” –George Burns

“The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.” – Jay McInerney

“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.” – Rick Riordan.

OSCAR-WILDE“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” – Oscar Wilde

“Parents are like God because you wanna know they’re out there, and you want them to think well of you, but you really only call when you need something.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“My dear young cousin, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.” – Rick Riordan

“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” – Trenton Lee Stewart

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” – George Bernard Shaw

ERMA“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” – Erma Bombeck

“Friends are the family you choose.” – Jess C. Scott

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – Frederick Buechner

“Friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.” – Wayne W. Dyer

“From the ages of 8-18, me and my family moved around a lot. Mostly we would just stretch, but occasionally one of us would actually get up to go to the fridge.” – Jarod Kintz

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt

SEINFELD“There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.” – Jerry Seinfeld

“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.” – Mary Karr

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more . . . secure.” – Jim Butcher

“Family isn’t blood. It’s the people who love you. The people who have your back.” – Cassandra Clare

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