Finally, the main event of the week: Auntie Choly's jubilee. First, a little background: Auntie Choly is actually my great aunt--my Lolo's (that's Filipino for grandpa) youngest sister. She's a nun and I'm sure she has a holy soul, but she has a fabulous sense of humor and loves to tease. My dad used to call her the "Old Bat" and she'd dish it right back at him. (A lot of our family, in fact, has nicknames for Auntie Choly. She's been called "Old Bat", "Holy Choly", and Auntie Tekla...which means Auntie Poop in Filipino. No, it's not a nice nickname. Yes, our family loves to give each other a hard time).
When I was in high school, I was pretty sure I wanted to be a nun as well. Auntie Choly wasn't so sure, so she invited me to spend a few weeks with her in Seattle living the glamorous life of a Sister of Providence. During this "internship", she taught me how to cook lumpia. Needless to say, I didn't end up being a nun (that's Joe's fault), but I still can roll a mean lumpia.
When Amy and I went to Seattle U, Auntie Choly took special care to watch out for us. She'd pick us up and take us out to dinner, afterwards dropping us off at our dorm room with loads of snacks to eat while we were studying.
A. Chols made Amy and I feel special and well-loved. Later, we realized it wasn't because we were her favorite grandnieces, but rather, that she treated all of her many nieces and nephews/grandnieces and grandnephews with the same care. So, we all decided to join together and celebrate her jubilee this year with a family reunion. (If you haven't family-reunioned or family-vacationed with 30 Filipinos, you haven't lived. Joe would pipe up with suggestions about our trip early on in the planning process and I'd start to tell him why that wouldn't work, but then figured it would just be easier to let him see for himself. Soon, my catch phrase was, "You'll see. You'll see what it's like to vacation with the Filipinos"...but that's a topic for another blog post.)
Since Amy, Joe, and I are slaves to early bedtime/naptime or early pregnancy (in Amy's case), we couldn't party it up late at night with the rest of the crazy Filipinos, so we ended up seeing most of the gang for the first time at the church the morning of the jubilee.
Even though I may have not seen some of my cousins/aunts/uncles for 15 years, even though I may not have even met them before, we walk into the church and are immediately swarmed with the chaotic, loud welcome of our family. Warm hugs and kisses are exchanged with introductions, family members shout hellos across the worship space, babies are squeezed (even Andie's infamous stink-eye was no deterrent). We are a large moving mass of teasing, hugging, chatting, and laughing.
I'm sure it was a wonderful Mass with a beautiful homily about these Sisters and their service. I'm not really sure because I spent most of the Mass with Andie being cranky and then suddenly falling asleep while I stood in the back, swaying (no easy feat in 3 inch heels!).
Joe spent most of the Mass keeping tabs on Sam.
But, after Mass, there was a lovely luncheon and we went across the street to the park to play outside.
After the park, Joe and I noticed it was naptime and shuttled our kids back to the hotel where we all took a family nap for the next three glorious hours. The rest of the Filipinos continued the revelry with amazing energy: a group went swimming, a group went sight-seeing, a group went shopping.
That evening, we all met back at Old Spaghetti Factory for a dinner in honor of Auntie Choly. We roasted Auntie Choly for three hours straight. And, at the end, she addressed us all.
"You people" (that's what she always calls us with a tone of mild exasperation) "you people never treat me with any respect." (Lots of hooting and whooping).
"But when I looked at all of you people there at the church today and thought of all the effort it took for you to come here to celebrate today....I just felt love. I felt your love. It means so much to me. And I thank you for that."
Not a dry eye in the house. We love you, Auntie Chols!