These are the days I live for. Watching a noisy family around a full table must be the most precious of God’s gifts to man. This is why I chose Madeira instead of any other place in the world. This is why I stay, for the opportunity to see them together. And as I watched them tonight, noisily around the table, arguing over who got to dish up first, I humbly thanked God for each and every member.
We raised a toast to Easter, to God and to his son who died to forgive our sins. My grandmother then raised a toast to my Grandfather who would’ve liked nothing more than to be there. When he was still alive, there was nothing that made him happier than to see his family together… any excuse is good enough. However, there wasn’t a seat missing. My cousin brought her steady boyfriend who for the first time was welcomed by our family. We laughed as we watched my uncles pass him through inspection. Their version of a thorough inspection is to give him several of my grandfather’s wine to taste. To pass this test, he may not refuse a glass and has to comment on how wonderfully good each wine tastes. Luckily we’d already warned the new member of the custom and he passed with flying colours.
Before dinner it is customary for all the ladies to go through their medical history and all the men go through their latest car adventures. The aunties all hover and help around the kitchen while the men talk in the wine cellar. My favourite place to be is between all my uncles in the wine cellar. I get passed on from one knee to another and every five minutes I get a kiss for fetching a glass or another plate with bread. The jokes and stories usually begin there but soon they infect onto the women and before you know it, we’re all sitting round the table sharing old stories and new jokes.
We raised a glass to the newcomer. It’s not easy to enter our family circle but once you’re in, you become a member for life. I thought of my dad who regardless of his divorce to my mother, still belonged to this family. My uncle in Brasil, the other in South Africa and the third in Venezuela were not there in body, but they were certainly there in spirit as childhood memories were passed from mouth to mouth. Of course, no Easter dinner is complete without desert and this is where the aunties are put to competition, to see who made the best desert. Compliments and recipe secrets are shared and promises for a new desert at the next family gathering.
This is why we work, we fight and we struggle: for precious moments with the people we love. I remember a time when I was far away from all of this and I prayed for the opportunity that I was living this evening. It’s not always easy when dealing with family. Things don’t always go right, opinions don’t always agree… however, it seems that at moments like these, all the differences melt away and we’re left with the warmth and love that makes up a family. Blessed is the man that can surround his table with family members, for love and family is what we all live and strive for.