The post-party party table. My cousin Duke negotiated a table for us all well after our banquet time had expired at Maggianos.
Of all the people that worried about me while I was gone, my folks surely had standing to be at the top of the list but were the best troopers of them all. I knew I was always safe (I mean, mostly safe . . . it's all relative) but my parents and family (and friends) would not. Broadcast news, a regular programing choice for the large TV in the office, often reported the worst and frequently disregarded the best. Somewhere in between, shrouded by the "fog of war" lies the truth. So I actually think it was far more difficult to be here, in the U.S., than there, in Iraq. My folks were very caring but amazingly stoic throughout, surely a credit to them both.
But right now, the larger credit was the party they threw for me and 39 members of the family. A bevy of food and drink to be sure, but more importantly, a feast of family, all of whom I was incredibly happy to see and be with.
My two favorite nieces (of two).
The hosts and very relieved parents. For those of you in the DC area who have already asked me about the next Hal and Betty Happy Hour . . . plan for early November.
The patriarch on my mom's side, my cousin Duke plays the guitar, flirts like a Marine (he use to be one) and will sell you a citrus orchard, all in under an hour and over three rounds of drinks. Joining us is the family priest, Fr. Blasko.
And on my Dad's side of the family, my great Aunt Jenny, fondly mentioned in my Thanksgiving post back in November. She threatened to hurt me if I got hurt in Iraq. Apparently it worked. (You don't mess with Aunt Jenny). I bet if you put her into a room with the Iraqi Council of Ministers, this war would be over in under a fortnight.