What I love about our reunions is not the food (though the food is always outstanding); it’s the preparation of the food. The women in one corner chopping, washing and cooking while talking, giggling like they were little girls and then bursting into peals of laughter. They “murder” their husbands, complain about their children, complain about money, complain about the weather…. Their stories sometimes meander to actors, national issues, about neighbor’s lives, classmates, jueteng…and of course, sex ( they could be very naughty at times). They are enjoying their company.
As usual, the men were under the tree drinking and laughing and telling jokes and tall stories that we all knew were meant to be humorous rather than factual. The family is a musical family, the guitar and the naughty songs were there.
My brother-in-law bought a half gallon of lambanog. There are good lambanogs and there are bad lambanogs. The best way to judge them is to taste them. Anyway (look around) I looked at the lambanog .It looked good because of the fruits floating in it. I smelled it and decided to taste it. No, I don’t drink anymore but this time it’s out of curiosity. So, I asked for a taste. I took a shot, and booommm…like drinking gasoline.
One thing I don’t like about lambanog is the after taste. I have tasted many types of liquor before, but lambanog is different because it’s after taste lingers for hours that even chewing a gum could not remove it. According to my father in law, it is not safe to drink lambanog anymore because some distillers add chemicals to their products. The shot gave me a throbbing head ache anyway.
It was a good thing that my brother in law had a motorcycle because I was able to enjoy the trip to the market. I did not have to ride in a tricycle- a bumpy, uncomfortable that takes about thirty minutes to get to the public market. But with the motorcycle, I felt freedom. The coastal road was lined with trees and the panoramic view of the sea overrode the desire to go fast but rather, it made me slow down to enjoy the breeze and the views.
Everybody was looking for their children. Everybody was shouting somebody else’s name. Of course they could not find them, they were swimming in the sea. The little children that used to run naked were now young girls conscious of the minutest details of their looks. Taking pictures whenever the urge came…they were lucky because in our days pictures use film so every shot had to count. But with digicams, they could take pictures of anything, anytime and anywhere. In a few years from now the generation gap would be evident.
The children loved the reunion. They had special food, the beach, games and what was most important was that they felt love not only from their parents but also from their uncles and aunts. The memories will forever bound them till they grow old.
There was also sadness. When we left to go home, my parents-in-laws were crying tears of joy and tears sadness. My wife’s parents are getting old, and I could see the longing in their eyes to be with their children more often. My father in law even proposed that we held our reunions twice a year. Of course, if this was possible, we would not deny them of this request but there were many things to consider like time, money, the distance etc. But it’s hard to say no especially when they started talking about death and dying. Why do they have to blackmail us with death? Maybe I’ll understand them when I reach their age. It’s the empty nest syndrome.
We must please our parents especially in their twilight years.. They have sacrificed so much and the least the children could do is to grant their requests whenever possible. They deserve it. It is good that our children see how much we love their grandparents for it would set a good example for them when we too became old.
As a Chinese proverb says: "Reunion after long separation is even better than one's wedding night."
Looking forward to next year’s…