Big v Small Families: Being Overwhelmed at my Lebanese Mate’s 21st Birthday

So I went to one of my best friend’s 21st birthday a while ago. His name is Mikey. He’s a Lebanese boy. He told us the party was for close friends and family. On the Facebook event, 15 people were invited …

120 people showed up. Brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties, cousins, second cousins – friends of dad’s cousins’ nephews. The whole shebang. It was ridiculously fun. And so overwhelming.

I can barely count family that I know well (let alone well enough to invite to my birthday) on two hands. In terms of family I’m in contact with regularly – we’re down to just the immediate: mum, dad, my twin sister Lydia, my older brother Jeremy, his fiancé Nat, and my dog Ruby.

Yes. Ruby. She’s a mini poodle. She’s got the French poodle cut and all. At first, it was a little emasculating to walk around with her. And then I realised that she was everything I’ve ever wanted (to be) …

A chick magnet.


She is man’s best colleague


This is actually preposterous. Fave photo of Dad with pupper jetpack.

Also, I thought I could counteract the femininity of her presence by referring to her by a rougher name. Bruce for example. Or Butch. The names are yet to stick or be received particularly well.

Nonetheless, Ruby plays a pivotal role in my small, close family. Mostly as an emotional support / spooning buddy I might add. Nonetheless, pivotal.

Back to the story – so there I was at my mate’s party. A tall, pasty boy in a sea of beautiful Lebanese people. Waiting in line for my fourth plate of food – an amazing feast whose preparation took the gargantuan effort of Mikey’s mum and her sisters (and the sacrifice of what I can only imagine was an entire farm’s worth of animals).

And I watched as Mikey interacted with all his relatives. As he hugged, kissed, shook hands and received envelope after envelope – each with a unique birthday card, and of particular interest – each with a healthy dose of currency.

It’s funny. Before I could even think about being jealous of the big family and the big gatherings, the first thing I could think of was

‘fuck me, he’s going to make a lot of money out of this party.’

The next day, after the impressiveness of Mikey’s family money tree dissipated, I reflected on the stark difference between his family and my own, and I wasn’t jealous anymore.

His family experience wasn’t better than mine. Just different.

I love my little family. And it isn’t so little the more I think about it. My house is open to all my friends – who serve as additional (and annoyingly, more preferred) children for my parents.

Family is where I’m home.

And in the coral reef of that home, I’m certainly the sponge. Sedentary in nature. Things (instructions) bounce off my surface. I tend to be lurking on the outskirts. People are confused as to how I will reproduce. Oh yeah, I also sponge.

But in that home, I’m with people I love (and love to hate).

Above all, to me – in that home are family that, no matter what kind of fuck-up I muster, will be there for support. Best of all, they’ll somehow manage to make me laugh about it.

Don’t forget your family, cause at the end of the day they’re all you really have!

Take care,


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