«

»

Feb 11

Nothin’ Like Family

I had a really great time this past weekend with family. One of my cousins was getting engaged to really fantastic young woman, and Saturday night was the Engagement Party… or as my family likes to call it, “Another Excuse to Get Together, Have Some Drinks, Great Eats, Be our Naturally Loud Selves, and Yuck it up While Poking Fun at Those Who Couldn’t Make It.”  It was fantastic, as these things often are.

My cousins’ party (BTW, congrats to you both Jason n’ Jackie-Deuce) was the headlining act for sure; but why these events are so cool, is that the “next shift” of family is growing… and it’s so fun to see it happen. What do I mean by this? Well, us “1st Cousins” are getting older, and a new crop of youngsters are about to take the wheel.. and it’s super cool.

YOU... Welcome to the Family.

YOU… Welcome to the Family.

For all my life, my family has been an amazing rock. Through good and bad, craziness, closeness, ins-and-outs.. my family (The Sasala Clan) has been there. Adding to this fun is the fact that I have a good number of cousins, and most are of the same age. So much so, that we practically all grew up together more as brothers and sisters; staying with each other – and working – together; getting into adventures – and a ton of trouble – while watching each other’s back.  And this connection? Directly due to our parents. They are a tight bunch from a strong, ethnic neighborhood in Scranton, PA – where family mattered a ton and connections were important.. and ALL were parents. No matter if it was your mom or uncle… ALL made sure you kept your word, did your best, and gave you that needed little “pop” to the back of the head when your schemed idea of doing something incredible dumb was hatched. Some of my best lessons in life came from the trouble we caused, and the consequences that we brought on ourselves… Yeah, I’m looking at you, Uncle Bobby (and yes, I finally now am appreciating all those GREAT breakfasts that you forced me to finish before I was to leave the table; even when I thought you were trying to poison me with such “awful” things as “Western Omelets” – the humanity! 😉 Life lessons came in a whole sort of strange ways.. but all had purpose: Respect one another but especially your elders; Protect one another; Never forget where you came from; Be bold; Be strong when strength is needed but be smart always.

But soon, the closeness of geography began to widen. Aunts and Uncles moved to different areas, and so the connections seemed to be more difficult to maintain… except they weren’t. Why? Because us cousins SO loved our parents’ connections, and the tradition of “Family First” that even different colleges, different states, and different professions didn’t stop us from our connection.

For more cousins, See Other Staircase

For more cousins, See Other Staircase

Hell, we even started “CuzFest” – a get together of 1st cousins/spouses/significant others expressly to always have a minimum of one moment (every two years) to bring us all together and celebrate the life and loves of our family. It’s kick-ass, and I absolutely love those times, and all the times in-between. Plus we make excellent shirts, and inevitably have a great tournament of some kind of game (beer pong or invented games like “AquaBall” which I would tell you the rules, but my drunken stupor at the time gives me pause as to my knowledge of that magical water contest.. I do know I got crushed and didn’t win the title, which went to “The Bookends” team of Jon and Casey…bastards).

So here I am, at my cousin’s Engagement Party, and I am sitting with kids of two of my cousins.  They’re taking in the event and the family… and I’m sitting there, looking at them with pride, and reminding them that it is now a part of their role to keep this train a-rollin’.

Many of you know me, and you know my feeling about family and how important my family is to me. But I don’t subscribe to the notion that family is biological and therefore automatic. No no no. Family is a connection that must be nourished and constantly plugged into – but it is the HOW that we do it that makes its tensile strength either steel or Jello.  My love of my family was spawned from hours of living together, summers together, motorcycle rides to lake rope swings (as well as ungodly far trips on dirt roads we should never have been on), and car washes, lawn cutting, and a billion other chores.  Punishments, praises, music, and yes maybe a “wee little bit” of underage drinking brought me so close to my family… and all of it, ALL of it… matters and make me better as a man today.

So now I sit in a basement, a 40-year-old, telling the younger cousins that these connections matter to us, and challenging them to carry it forward. Not because we are DONE with it, but because we want MORE of it.  But my chat with my two family members wasn’t to show them something they didn’t see or experience themselves… it was more like an invite to another level of the family connection. It was now a part of what they did. No more would it be enough to just wait for the next family thing… it’s time to start them as well.

And do you know what the best part of this conversation? The fact that I didn’t need to sell anything… THEY wanted to take up an oar, and start rowin’ with us. And that’s the hook… We. Together. Family.

I wish you have a “no kidding” kind of feeling right now after reading this, because I really am so proud to be in my family and to have such fantastic people in my life… I hope you can relate and have those kinds of relationships too.

Just a few of the cousins, at the wedding of Greg & Casey Schreiber

Just a few of the cousins, at the wedding of Greg & Casey Schreiber

It’s one thing to hear phrases like “Family First” – it’s entirely different when you never have to say it… because you know the FEELING of it… and it’s with you each single day.

So Cheers to my family… and Cheers to Jason and Jackie… Jackie, welcome again to the family. We are honored you chose to have a life with our cousin.. and we are proud to call you one of our own. Salute.  ~DK

Oh and PS…

Happy Birthday, Jessica. Love you.

Me & Jess (2007)

Me & Jess (St. Patty’s 2007)

4 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Jimi Dyer

    LOL, you can only fit 15 of us in a picture!

    1. dknight

      Too Big To Fail…like CitiBank.

  2. PATTI

    WOO U REALY CAN WRITE.. I TWO AM PROUD OF THE WAY U TURNED OUT.. AND ALL THE REST OF THEM.. HAHHA .. AND UNCLE ROY AND I ARE VERY PROUD OF JAYSON HE IS QUIET THE YOUNG MAN.. AND WE LOVE JACKI O… HAD A GREAT TIME.. AND ENJOYED BEING WITH THE YOUNGER KIDS TOO… BUT DOUG .. U WILL ALWAYS BE MY SU-CHEIF IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN… THANKS FOR HAVING MY BACK ALWAYS… LOVE GUESS WHO..HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA IS THAT ENOUGH HA HAS

    1. dknight

      Thanks Aunt Patty! I am proud to be the Sous Chef of the TOP CHEF SASALA!! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>