The Circus Family

It’s almost time for the annual vacation with my three sisters and all of our kids, making us a party of eleven, plus a dog or two.

This weekend I have to work, go to a graduation party, and then shop and pack. Piece of cake! (Crazy laugh)

My sister Neala, third child of four and ten years younger than me, is ordering matching shirts for all of us. You heard me, matching shirts!

Neala (who by the way is named after my Gram) sent us all pictures and sizes and told us to vote.

“I do not want a shirt,” I said.

“Oh you are getting a shirt, and you will wear it or Megan will cut you.”

Megan is the youngest, twelve years my junior. She will threaten to cut me, but she won’t really.

I may or may not have been suffering some PMS when this whole shirt exchange took place. All I could think about were the times growing up where I had to wear a matching shirt and felt self conscious because I always thought I was the fattest one. Youth camp, UGH. Or the time we all had to wear togas for a giant youth gathering “fun night” in San Antonio. Or the time they ordered shirts for everyone at work in a size medium. I avoid any work function that will require a matching shirt.

In reality, when I look back at those high school pictures, I was not “the fat kid”. But all that really mattered then was that that was how I felt.

Anyway, this whole matching shirts for vacation thing brought back all those feelings. (That may or may not have been amplified by PMS) I don’t want to be the fattest one in the shirt.

I text my sister back, “I really do not want a shirt, I am serious!” along with a long list of all the reasons why.

My sister ignored me and asked me what my size was at a couple common stores. Tonight she sent two versions of the shirt for us to pick a color.

On the front is a shape like a ticket, and on the ticket is a picture of a circus tent, with the words “Circus Family” in circus-y lettering.

We became The Circus Family one year on our Michigan vacation. It happened when one of our sisters was already at the hotel, and the other three of us pulled up from a day at the beach. We were there, along with everyone else at our hotel, to see the sunset and unlike everyone else, to also have a picnic dinner.

All doors flew open on all three vehicles and kids starting piling out. Tablecloths and coolers. There might have been yelling like, “Let’s go down to the water Naomi!” or, “I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Take the paper products bag, Evelyn!”

A man, who was unknowingly sitting next to the sister of this unruly crowd groaned, “Here comes The Circus” to the people sitting around him.

“Yep,” my sister Neala replied, “we’ve been coming to this hotel every year for fifteen years.”

He didn’t have much to say after that, but we are forever and always The Circus Family.

Which shall now be commemorated with a shirt.

Like my nephew, who screamed he “never even wanted teeth!” when told to brush, I hope the back of mine says, “I never even wanted this t-shirt!”

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