Our cousins from the UK arrived this week - along with their gorgeous twins. Tonight the Clan gathered to welcome them properly with a bonfire. I think bonfires are one of my favourite winter things.
The way was lit with bottled candles and flares, down to the tangled mass of sticks, branches and roots that rose from the ground like an out of place beaver lodge. F-I-L had been busy the last few months, with a plan in mind.
It was a slow start, leaves lighting up brightly, then dying. But there was no end of encouragement from the crowd and after a quick scavenge for twigs we soon had a bright orb, and then a fire!
The young lads fueled it enthusiastically until the circle that had gathered widened considerably, to cope with heat, and better appreciate the view. There's something so connecting about a fire. One beautiful cousin had brought a friend with her and was introducing her to the Clan. In the explanations that followed about who was who, I mentioned 'Everyone here is connected somehow' (we are an extended group). And as I said it, I realised how we are so broad (cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed and in-laws, and siblings and friends that are family by choice) but there is a definite clanness to us.
I married into this clan, and feel it strongly as this is so unlike the family experiences from my background. But this is a family where the matriarch only ever treated me like a daughter, not a daughter-in-law, and I have a sister, (not a sister in law) and the cousins call me their cousin (not their cousin's wife). Here is a space and place for everyone - even my side of the family who are clan now too, not 'in-laws'.
With hot soup, roast meat, bread by the basketful, spicy mulled wine and wonderful company I just sat and bathed in the glorious feeling that I would not want to be anywhere else in the world but here. This is home and these are my people. And I am just the luckiest person alive.