Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Carbohydrates For The Long Haul

There's an old University of Texas A&M adage that goes like this:

From the outside looking in, 
you won't understand it.
From the inside looking out, 
you can't explain it.

This saying is used by the Fightin' Texas Aggies to explain the culture of their school - a south Texas college steeped in  tradition. The students (past and present) hold these traditions near and dear to their hearts, but some of them are a bit curious. For example, Aggie sports fans never boo at any game. They just won't do it. What they do instead is hiss. So, in a football game, if a ref makes a bad call or LSU makes a dirty play (not like that's ever gonna happen), the fans will hiss between their teeth at decibel one hundred. I have no idea how this tradition started, but it is solidly in place.
 Do not be that Aggie's girlfriend who, at a home game, accidentally yells out Boo! at the top of her lungs. Ignorance of the law is no protection. Even if that girl was from Texas Woman's University where they didn't even have football. Even if it was in the 80's and she had an awesome spiral perm and Brooke Shield eyebrows.  Those finer points will not help you. You know things are getting serious when a great perm can't save a Texas girl's reputation.

As we were watching the A&M game this weekend, I started thinking about how my own whack-a-doodle little family had a lot in common with that Fightin' Ags quote. It's often hard to explain to others what it's like to be part of a McFarland family. I don't mean this in a snooty tooty kinda way. Believe me when I say, we are more like the Heck family than the Kennedys. It's just sometimes hard to describe the wonderful/crazy/frenetic/goofy pace at which a McFarland family moves, but here's my best shot. 
First things first. I come from the Wade family. Unlike how my own crew works, the Wade family danced to a much slower tune. As kids, we spent entire Saturday mornings watching cartoons until lunch time. Sunday afternoons were for hanging out in your room and reading comic books until dinner. Low key and laid back 24/7. Here is a picture of our family when I was in middle school. Not only am I rocking the perfect Kristy McNichol hairdo, look how relaxed we all look. Despite having four kiddos only 2 years apart from each other, my parents look calm and cool. 
 Now compare the kids in that picture to the ones in this one. Yep, this is the perfect image of how my family rolls.  
We are a loud and goofy bunch.  That's just what happens when a family that loves to talk (Wade) marries into a family that never sits still (McFarland). It's one of those things that people either love to be around or can only tolerate in small doses. Believe me when I say, I get it. You won't hurt my feelings if you need to jump off the McFarland train after a few hours. Just know you always have a saved seat if you want to jump back on.
We also have a ton of kids in my clan. Lots of kids means lots of busy-ness and a certain amount of chaos.  Pandemonium is textbook McFarland and something I wouldn't change for the world.  My brother, Ted, described it best when he said, "When they're all together, it's definitely rowdy, but it's a happy kind of rowdy." Lots of cousins= tons of shoes on the floor, not much space left on the couch, and Nerf bullets in every corner. Graham and I learned early on, football games were the magic key to hosting large gatherings of our family. Not only are they great photo ops, it helps to burn off all the carbs the kids have been raiding from the pantry.
 Speaking of carbs, if it doesn't involve tons of food, it's definitely not a McFarland thing. Most of this is my fault. I have a soft spot for cooking for people and I always make way too much. But the truth is, that doesn't really bother me. There's just something so satisfying about making a meal that feeds everyone you love up to the brim. Piled around the tables, I get to enjoy watching them as they laugh and talk over each other. It doesn't matter if it's pizza on paper plates or Thanksgiving turkey on china, as long as we're all together, I'm the happiest girl in town.
Which brings me back to square one. What is the best way to describe what it's like to be around the McFarland clan? I guess it boils down to this. We are all about the people we love. Without a doubt, I know the greatest gift I have been given in this life is the gift of my family. It is not something I take for granted and I do my best to handle it gently every day. We may look different from one another, but make no mistake, we are a package deal and we are in it for the long haul.  A loud, wonderful, food-filled long haul. Even looking in from the outside, that should be easy to understand.

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