Like a great swath of Americans, I headed home to rendezvous with some family. For us, we headed north to meet up with my dad, his wife, my sister and her family, and my four step brother/sisters and their families. All totalled, we were 27 people staying at my dads. This is a yearly event, and honestly, without it, I would probably only get to see my step-siblings (who all live in South Dakota) every few years. Soon my dad and his wife will also be moving back there, so I appreciate the short drive while I have it! We have had chaotic reunions, but this one went really well. All fifteen grandkids did great. All kids (my generation) had a fun time bonding and reconnecting with each other. It was exhausting, but fun.
My dad and his wife, E., have only been married a few years. It could have been strange inheriting this large family, but it really isn't. I like her family very much and have enjoyed getting to know them. I feel lucky that they are part of our lives. One thing that you notice quickly, is that they are really religious. Not in a creepy, evangelical way, but in a reserved deeply meaningful way. They are Catholic. So much so, that my father had an annulment from my mom (whom he was married to for 25 years), so they could be married in the church. When we visit, there is never any question about attending services. We will be going.
Honestly, I like it. I like that my kids are being exposed to part of my past and are interested in learning more about it. We talked about the church and what all the different parts of the church symbolized. We looked at the stations of the cross and the statue of Mary. I explained what it means to say the Rosary and what the little bowls of Holy Water are for. I have to admit it, I was a little sad to realize that my kids are missing out on this shared experience. There is a cultural legacy in being Catholic (as with many other religions) that my kids are not going to have. I don't know why, but it really hit me this past weekend. Whenever we visit, my kids will not be "in the know".
Being members of a religion affords you to partake in certain right or traditions. My kids will never be able to take communion. I can, but they will always have to pass. They won't grow up knowing all the awesome nuns I encountered. I am not sure they really even understand what it means to be a nun. They won't have first communion or be confirmed and understand the religious milestones it is to their extended family. They won't really understand our family's religious history. Of course, you can say "well, they do know about all the world religions and can discover their own path when they are older." Sure... but have I denied them a grounding in something that connects them with our larger family? I worry that they will end up being adrift with so many options that they will never really feel home anywhere. I see how centering it is for E.'s family and I want something like that for my family, too. I guess I am processing a lot right now.