10 19 2014.

the rich family

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I love my family. Since I moved out a little more than a year ago, I’ve been regularly looking for excuses to go visit. Usually it’s to go for a run with my mom or to see my sisters while they’re home from college. Other times it’s a special occasion like a birthday or holiday. Regardless, these visits always end the same way: everyone sitting around the dinner table holding their stomachs, laughing.

That’s seriously what we do, and we do it after every meal for hours. I finally understand the togetherness that families have over something as simple as a conversation. No one is interrupted by their phones, no one’s glancing elsewhere or looking to leave. We’ve all committed ourselves to live in that moment, to joke around and tell stories with the rest of us.

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I consider myself lucky. As a family, we do (and have done!) many things together. Vacations to Disney World and Universal, hiking Mt. Katahdin, visiting Virginia Beach, miniature golfing, picking out the Christmas tree together, camping every summer (sometimes 3 times!), white water rafting, family Easters/Christmases/Thanksgivings, apple picking. My parents have been the most supportive of the lot. Though I didn’t participate in school sports, they’ve attended nearly all of my sisters’ sporting events and even came to my first triathlon to cheer me on! My mom has always indulged my dreams; most recently to run a half marathon and she has signed up to do two right beside me! My dad has always had a children first policy, which may sound like a model every parent has, but he doesn’t just believe this, his lives it.

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My sisters weren’t always my best friends. Growing up, Ally was both my strongest ally or my worst enemy. We fought like no other, often breaking down in tears and requiring my mom to act as mediator. If we weren’t fighting, we were teaming up against Carly – who had the amazing ability to play well by herself. Carly, being the youngest and six years my junior, wasn’t always the easiest to relate to, though we got along on more occasions than not – especially compared to how much I fought with Ally! Two of us were always getting along at any one time. Just two though – hardly ever all three.

Boy how things have changed. I can’t remember the last time I fought with either of them. I love both of my sisters and have so much pride in knowing that they’re part of my family. They’ve grown up to be absolutely beautiful, extremely talented and wildly self-sufficient. They’re both entering the adult world head first: determined not to fail and destined to succeed.

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When it all comes down to it, I have a totally normal family. And I’m thankful for that every single day.

And that leads me into the real reason for this post: tailgating this past weekend. Saturday was UMO’s Homecoming. No, I didn’t attend UMO, but Ally is currently a senior there. In the four years that she’s attended UMO, I’ve never once visited her there! I feel guilty saying that, but I also feel that it’s necessary to admit in order to get the point across that this past weekend was a big deal.

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Tailgating was a blast! I brought my homemade apple cider donuts to share and there was a ton of food! My dad is a master at these things. Having come from a background of backyard barbecues, lobster bakes and tailgates, this time was no exception. He had two portable grills going. One for ribs and chili, the other for wings and kielbasa.

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There were so many family friends and even new friends there. Ally met us there from her apartment and brought along a few of her roommates and classmates for us to meet. Her runner friend, Carolyn, was a blast to talk to! She had so much insight to share on running, food, environmental science, agriculture. And she convinced me to sign up for the Pineland 25k!

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(How cool is it that UMO gets custom-branded Saucony sneakers?)

I left UMO feeling both excited about the experience but also emotionally drained. Though I don’t regret my college choice at all and feel like it was the right choice for me at the time, I also feel like I missed out on the whole “school spirit” side of things. If I could go back, I would join the track team. I would participate in extra-curriculars. I’d spectate at football games and hockey games. MECA had no sports team. There was nothing there that interested anyone else in my family but me. Sure, I gained an incredible education that taught me far more about art and design than I could have learned elsewhere – and in a style that was right for me – but there wasn’t much beyond that. (Yes, I realize that I wasn’t interested in sports back in college!)

Mom and I jet up to Enfield to visit with Kim and Mark. Mark is recovering from a triple-bypass surgery that he had a week before and it was also his birthday! It was the perfect opportunity to visit. Their house is roughly 30 minutes from UMO so it was a quick trip up and when we arrived around 1:15, we could see Mark walking down the street – away from the house. It was great to see him up and feeling well!

We sat around the kitchen table for a while, mostly discussing family. Something really unique happened this time though. Mark really opened up. He talked about his parents and his grandparents. I never knew much about Mark’s side of the family! I loved getting to know Kim and Mark more intimately through these details, and I hadn’t realized just how little I knew until the stories were told.

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Grammie and Papa arrived shortly afterward, so we went outside to walk around and take some photos. Kim and Mark have a beautiful property. It’s huge and private! I always loved spending time there because it never felt crowded, no matter how many people we packed into that yard to play games and barbecue. I’m guilty of always bringing my camera with me, like a security blanket, but never taking it out! Let me tell you, once you learn to lug an SLR up a mountain in a backpack and take it out repeatedly to take photo, taking a camera out at a family gathering is no big deal.

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Kim and Mark tap maples in their yard (they have over 100 maples on their property!) and make syrup from it. It’s the most delicious syrup I’ve ever had! I have to hide it from Darren because he’d use it all! I’m going to go up in April when they boil the sap down and will get to see the whole process.

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Kim also has a beautiful garden – all raised beds! The last of the crops for this year included celery and kale. The celery was eat-off-the-stalk delicious. It was crisp and sweet with a bit of a cilantro-esque bitterness. She let us take some of her vegetables home with us – I’m going to throw some of my celery into an enchilada soup! I also left with some moose meat. My Papa shot a moose while out hunting a few weeks ago and has over 300 pounds of meat! I’ve never had moose meat so I’m a bit nervous to try it – but I’ll try anything once!

As we were walking around from garden to garden, I realized that I don’t have a single photo of my grandparents together! I asked them if I could get their picture and they happily agreed.

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After I snapped the photo of them, Grammie and Papa walked over to me and we engaged in a “group hug.” Grammie said to me, “You’ve become so domestic, haven’t you?” While I don’t think domestic was the word she was looking for, I understand what she was trying to say. And she’s completely right. These past two years have been significant to me and my growing up. I know that everyone has a different face that they wear (unintentionally) around family than they do around friends. Around friends, I was always extroverted, funny and social. Around family – especially those extended beyond my parents and sisters, I was more introverted and felt like I could come off as grumpy or as someone who didn’t want to participate in the day’s events.

I probably came off that way because it was probably true. I now really appreciate the time that I get to spend with my family. I’m no longer living at home so I don’t get to see family by default. I’m also much more of a busy girl, so I often miss out on family activities. The few times I do get to see family are precious. I grasp on to them and family holidays become my benchmarks. That being said, maybe I am more “domestic.”

Maybe that’s the change that’s been happening for a while.

I love my family. My sisters, my parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. I know we’re blessed to have as much as we do. My mom and her sisters like to retell a particular story about their childhood where they were convinced that their family was rich. They thought this because they were always able to take vacations in their family van (vans were rare in Lincoln!) and were always well-fed. They later came to learn that the true definition of rich didn’t really apply to their family, but they called themselves the Rich Family, regardless. I love that story, because even though the traditional meaning of “rich” usually signifies an abundance of monetary wealth, they’ve held on to that word throughout the years. A few Christmases ago, they brought this story up again. Looking back, they recognize that they were rich. Rich on love. We all are.


10 Comments

  1. Kelsey, this was a beautiful post. I laughed, teared and smiled at all of it. You always inspire me. Xoxo

  2. That’s the title of my story I worked for months to write and published in our family book called, The Rich Family! So honored you breathed new life into the title. I’m so glad you were able to visit and enjoy the day. Sometimes, we have to think about what’s most important and not worry about the little things that don’t get accomplished because we are focused on our family. I am working on a post about family-they are always there for us. No matter what. Because of that, we need to nurture the family relationship.

    • Kelsey @ Spice & Dice

      I can’t wait to read it! (You know, I was pretty sure “The Rich Family” was a title used by one of the Corro girls! I’d love to read it again!)

  3. Kelsey, This was so special to read…thank you for sharing your raw emotions! So many of your comments are similar to my own life. Maybe as a first child, we go through similar life experiences? I especially related to your feelings on family functions…must be those grumpy teenage girl hormones we have to endure. But now, when I get family time, I feel like that piece of pie that was missing from my metaphorical heart has been replaced. There’s a great energy that gets recharged from family time.

    I thank you all for loving me despite those grumpy teenage years. I love you all!

    • Kelsey @ Spice & Dice

      Maybe it is a first-born thing! We go through the teenage years wanting to spend more time with friends than family and the second we’re adults we just want that family time back!

  4. This is so beautiful, I don’t know how I missed it before! Also, hahahaha my mom photo bombing.

  5. I love this story Kelsey. Just like Emily, I also missed it the first time around so I am so glad they you reposted so I had the chance to connect with it. We are so RICH….the older I get the more I embrace the richness and, believe it or not, the richer we get. Love you Kelsey!

    • Kelsey @ Spice & Dice

      I completely agree Mona – we DO get richer. Love you!

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