As I did on the first day of 2017, on New Year’s Day I was up early, out the door, onto the Metro, and aloft on the Silver Bird to Chicago; same destination: the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights for the annual party of my cousins. Five of the six children of my Uncle Bapper (that’s how my older brother Jim first pronounced “Joseph”) live in Metro Chicago, and four are within two miles of each other. As I noted last year, Bapper’s early disablement and death created remarkable tightness among the kids, and they are always fun to visit. Landed in below-zero weather and headed to the rental car lot, then drove eight miles across well-familiar terrain.
Before the party, I spent almost four hours yakking with Cousin Jim, oldest of the six, and his swell wife Michaela. They are nearly as close as siblings, and it’s always great fun to catch up. They’re in the throes of college admission for their oldest, Jack, and have two right behind, Charlie and Katie. We motored a few blocks to Cousin Mike’s, who with his wife Gail were the 2018 hosts. In no time I was hugging cousins, spouses, and kids. It was a lot of fun. They are a very tight bunch, and it’s a joy to see them together.
Was up early the next morning, and like the year before motored east to suburban Glenview for breakfast with Cousin Larry and his wife Judith. Larry is actually a first cousin once removed; his mom Alice was youngest of my maternal grandfather Jim’s six sibs. We had a caloric breakfast and a good catch-up about his three kids and several grandchildren. They are fine people. We drove back to their house, where I had made a firm friend with their new dog Blackie, and yakked some more. When I left, Lorenzo kissed me, and I was reminded that Italian men (and even just 25-percenters like me) kiss each other. Nice!
Drove briskly back to the airport. On the way, passed the first McDonald’s (well the first one built by Ray Kroc) in Des Plaines, noted that it was now a museum, and further noted to visit soon. Flew home, trip one done and fun.