Family

My family on Easter 2009 or 2010. My youngest brother is holding our niece, Lily.

FAMILY DISCOURSE

make a website documenting a scene that sticks in your memory from the childhood years of your family life.

I am the middle child of seven children. I have three older sisters (one of which is my twin, older by one minute) and three younger brothers. When I try to recall scenes of my childhood, they are always busy, colorful memories. In Vernacular Genres, I use the term “spectacle” to describe the way my family sings the Happy Birthday song. Collectively, we can turn anything into a spectacle. Several of my memories are based in this silly practice, in the regular family activity of turning everyday moments into performances. We acted out and choreographed several famous musical numbers. We created entire worlds in our backyard, drawing inspiration from our mothers’ readings of “Little House on the Prairie” as well as Disney’s “The Lion King”. In Memory Glimpse I also reference this practice, briefly touching on a time when I acted out an impromptu play with my siblings and cousins at a children’s museum.

We’d practiced for weeks. Our task was simple: perform a parodied version of a Veggie Tales song, replacing the original lyrs with ones inspired by our father’s workplace. The scene was a work related party (either a coworker’s retirement, birthday, or “30 years employment” celebration) and we had been volunteered by our mother to act out a sketch/serve as a form of party entertainment for the guests. The party was being held in our church basement, in what had appropriately been labelled the “fellowship” hall. Over the years I would attend several wedding receptions, baby showers, and even a few dances conducted in that fellowship space.

I remember the nervous energy that radiated off of myself and my younger siblings. I remember how funny I thought our re-interpreted version of the song was, despite the fact that I didn’t quite understand all of the jokes included. I remember frustrated practices and finally, the encouraging words we all whispered to each other just before the music began to play. Most of all I remember being proud to be part of something my siblings and performed together. I was terrified of saying more than 5 words to anyone, much less an adult, but I somehow managed to sing my entire opening solo to near perfection.

Looking back, I believe this memory, coupled with all the other memories I have associated with performing or creating a spectacle with my family is indicative of the person I am becoming. I was an incredibly shy, introverted child yet around my family I was always very open and engaged. The comfort I experienced with my family made it easier for me to make connections and gradually the openness I shared with my family translated into theater roles and choir performances. I am definitely still an introvert at heart, but because of the environment created by my family when I was a child, I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and into experiences that strengthened and shaped me as an individual.

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