February 21, 2008

Family gatherings are fantastic. They’re a time for relatives to come together and enjoy each other’s company. I don’t see my family much (for various reasons: jail, voluntary institutionalization, mercenary work), so I spend my time with other families on their happiest days. It really brings a lot of joy to my weekends.

The Radisson in downtown Scranton has these nice banquet rooms that people rent out for weddings or baptisms or reunions or whatever else they want to celebrate with their families. On Saturday mornings, I put on one of my work suits and head over to see what they’ve got going on. It’s really easy to figure out because there are these signs they put up in the lobby telling you who and what is going on in each of the banquet rooms. One week it might be the Yomimuri Family Reunion and Nathan’s Bar Mitzvah, the next week it’s Jimmy Kerry’s 40th Birthday Bash and a pancake breakfast from the Rotary Club. I like to think of it like Banquet Hall Roulette and I look forward to it all week – especially the Bar Mitzvahs. Those are a gas.

It’s amazing how just being in a room full of happy people can really rub off on you. When I leave the gatherings, or get kicked out as the case may be, I feel giddy. I start smiling like I’m a squirrel at a baseball game where the peanut vendor trips on one of the steps in the aisle and drops all of his peanut bags on the ground, which leads to a frenzy of Cub Scouts trying to pick up all the bags because they’re really hungry from all the walking they did to find their seats but none of their parents gave them money because they’re from a pretty poor area and they don’t have a lot of disposable income to be wasting on snacks at a baseball game, even though one of the kids, Mario, had a chocolate-chip granola bar that he didn’t tell anyone about because he knew he’d have to share it with the rest of his den and he didn’t even really like the kids that much because they always called him “Super Mario Brothers” and teased him for bringing his pet squirrel to Cub Scout events even though the squirrel was pretty cool and tame and smiled whenever something out of the ordinary happened. So basically, whenever l leave a happy family gathering, I feel like that squirrel.