Have you ever seen that program on SKY, ‘Modern Family’? It’s a comedy series about a family, their hilarious relationships, and the crazy stuff they do and say to each other. I love it! It makes me laugh so much. It makes me think of my own extended family, the crazy things we say and do.
Aliyah and I are in Greece this week. We are here to see my family and get a little of the Greek summer experience.
I have great memories of summer as a kid. It was mostly spent here, in the Southern Suburbs of Athens. There was swimming every day, scrumptious food, siesta, evenings out, to a play park, or a walk. We often went to what we called ‘the centre of the earth’. This was a neoclassical small villa with a huge garden all around it. Complete with old sheds as hiding places, bright coloured flower beds, and our very own treehouse, it was more commonly known as grandma Fimi’s house. There was always people around: grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins! There was five of us cousins all together. We were together every day and loved hanging out, playing, learning, eating and sometimes even fighting together . This was my family. With them, I felt totally safe, comfortable and happy. Even when I moved to the UK with my mum dad and brother, the summers were still spent here.
Things have changed somewhat since I was a kid. The centre of the earth has been knocked down, and a shopping centre stands in its place. The cousins have all grown up. Three out of five of us now live abroad, in places as varied as Edinburgh, Jerusalem, and Sochi. Two of us are married with our own kids.
Both my younger cousin and I have married non Greeks. Most Greeks call their girls Maria, Eleni and Katerina, whereas our daughters are called Aliyah and Karen. (I bet our mums never ever expected to have granddaughters with those names all those years ago, when we were growing up.) Most Greek kids spend their lives with their cousins, but these two get to see each other once a year.
I’ve often thought that Aliyah would miss out on the ‘summer experience’. But the last few days, I’ve been looking around and realising that things aren’t so very different for her, after all. It’s a little like re-living my childhood summers: swimming in my old favourite spots, eating all time favourite foods, hanging out with cousins. It’s the next generation, the modern version of my family.