Sometimes my friends tell me I should write a play about my family. Not my immediate family, but my extended family on my mom’s side. There are seventeen of us in the Boston area–eighteen if you include my great grandmother’s sister, Phyllis. There are also four generations of us. I’ll make a chart so it doesn’t get confusing.
(Forty five minutes later…) Clearly we’re a pretty large Jewish family. Be glad I didn’t add any of Carol’s siblings. We all live within a ten mile radius of each other… so we see each other A LOT. On top of that, you have some weird gender divides by generation. See how the third generation is all women and the fourth generation (minus me) is all men? The oldest person is 99 and the youngest person is 10. Jeremy and Gabe are the same age. Zach and Ben are eight days apart, while Josh is only a couple months older. Jon and Jake are a year apart. I’m kind of an outlier being the only girl but I tend to hang out with Gabe because we share the oldest sibling complex. Why am I telling you all this again? Because what we get in all of these intricacies are very authentic relationships. Perhaps they’re the types of relationships you’d want to see in a play.
Last night (almost) all of us were gathered around Dana’s kitchen for Thanksgivukkah (the freakish combination holiday of Thanksgiving and Channukah, never to emerge in modern society ever again). My grandfather wasn’t there because he was in the hospital. He fell down a last week and seriously injured his head. Fortunately, he’s going to make a full recovery, even if it won’t be for a while. A couple people spoke before the meal. There was definitely something more somber in the air as we expressed our thanks for each other. Finally, my grandmother announced that as soon as my grandfather recovers, we’re going to have another Thanksgiving. We’re going to have it no matter what time of year it might be. That of course brought on a series of Thanksgiving in July jokes… and would we also have to celebrate Channukah? Because a fourth of July/ Channukah/ Thanksgiving might be hard to pull off. But now that we have the fry-a-lator for the turkey, anything goes. Real moments. It could be a play.
My family often has great semi-theatrical moments like this. There’s always the right mixture of emotion, comedy, and food. Yet, I’m not sure I could turn us into a play, as some friends suggested. You’d think that real moments+ interesting dynamics+a theatrical mind= a play… right? But in my case I’m not sure it does. On top of the fact that I’m not a playwright by any means, I’m not sure if our story is one that needs to be told on a stage. Don’t get me wrong, my family is the best. We have family stories that have lasted over 6 generations. And we have fights, and arguments, and yelling matches in addition to tears, and laughter, and inside jokes. But why does our story need to be told on stage? It does not seem wildly different from anybody else’s story. Sure, the specifics are different. But the sentiment is probably the same. If I were to write a play about those people I am blessed enough to call my family, the overall message would be the same as any warm story about family: that family is important. The end. Simple as that. So while our story has not been told on a stage, the story of family in general has been told. Basically, I would not be adding anything new to the arsenal of plays that we have in the world. My family is valuable as a family, but probably not valuable as a play. Some day I might think differently, but for now, I say no to my friends who think they should be immortalized upon the stage. They can stay just where they are, thanks.
And just for the cute factor (and so you can picture the Channukah/ 4th of July/ Thanksgiving celebration):