I come from a family of eight, and with six kids, you’d think at least two of us might be similar. But you would be wrong. I know everyone thinks they’ve got an interesting mix in their family, but I’m pretty sure we got the variety pack. From oldest to youngest, we have: the Hard-nosed Lawyer, the Dog Whisperer, the Mountain Man Fishing Guide, the Humdrum Stick-in-the-Mud, the Ultra Marathoner, and the Drag Queen.
There are some of my siblings with whom I’ve always had more shared interests and some I’ve developed more of a relationship with as we’ve grown older, but really the only traits we all seem to share are a quick temper and the ability to be easily offended. As adults, we’ve had disagreements over religion, politics, parenting styles, perceived insults, actual insults, you name it… And because we don’t live in the same house anymore and sometimes don’t see each other for months at a time, small issues can grow and fester and take on more significance than they should. And I’m just as guilty as anyone else.
Each of us has quirks or character traits that bug the others – things that have annoyed us our WHOLE LIVES. I don’t know all my annoying traits, and I’m not asking for a list, but I do have an idea of some of them: “Oh, you know Humdrum. She always has to brag about her kids on Facebook.” or “You know Humdrum. She always writes family exposés on her blog…”
In the last year, I’ve decided to acknowledge those traits about family members and to learn to say “Oh, that’s just so-and-so doing such-and-such again,” with a shrug of my shoulders – just let it roll off my back. The alternative would be to take it as a personal attack every single time the behavior is repeated, and it will be repeated.
It really is quite freeing to think, “Oh, that’s just so-and-so being so-and-so,” maybe indulge in some eye rolling, and then let it go. I’m still not good at it, but I’m trying. It makes it easier for me to focus instead on what I love about them: Hard-nosed Lawyer’s wit and humor, the kindness Dog-Whisperer shows to my children (and dog), Mountain Man’s strength in raising his children and furthering his education, Ultra Marathoner’s thoughtfulness and attention to the small or unspoken needs of her friends and family, and Drag Queen’s ability to make everyone around him, even strangers, have fun.
So that’s a long explanation for why I sort of cheated this week. I did try something I haven’t done before (at least not at a public place), but it is something I’ve really wanted to do for a long time. My oldest sister threw a birthday party for her daughter at Willy’s Lounge Karaoke Night. Four of us were able to come (one lives too far away and the other was busy settling into her new house), and it was quite a magical evening. I wanted to include the others, so check out my incredible photography editing skills:
Ultra Marathoner and her husband sang a touching rendition of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” (and some women who were there with a bachelorette party reenacted the famous lift from Dirty Dancing), Drag Queen put on the Ritz (complete with tap dance), Hard-nosed Lawyer and her daughter sang about Kraft dinners (complete with Canadian accents), I sang (sometimes screeched) my favorite Dolly Parton song, and even though it took all night to agree on a song we could sing together, we were able to finally settle on the theme from The Greatest American Hero. And believe it or not, we really were walking on air.
Why was singing together in a karaoke bar the thing that brought us together in happiness and love that night? When I first moved back to Utah several years ago, the same sister who organized the party invited me to attend a small-town beauty pageant with her. It was just as fabulous as you would expect it to be. During the interview portion, one contestant said something so profound and redundant that six years later I still remember and repeat it often (I’m even thinking of putting it in vinyl lettering above my piano): “Music is the Universal Language of Everybody.”