Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled to O’Neill, Nebraska, to celebrate Mike’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary (congrats, Bernard and JoEllen!!). We were excited at the opportunity to introduce Teddy to his extended family. However, we wondered how our multi-racial family would be received by the family that we’re not connected to on our social networks and the local community (after a family dinner, the party would be open to everyone). We were flying from a city pretty evenly split in population by white people and black people to a county that’s … well … not. DC is 42% white and 50% black; Holt County, Nebraska, is 98.5% white and 0.3% black. We weren’t concerned, per se—Mike’s family are great people and I’m sure their friends are great, too—just curious.
I have to admit, I was shocked by the lack of second glances and insensitive comments. I did get one odd comment, by a very sweet elderly lady, but it took me aback more because it was the only such comment I received. And it wasn’t insensitive. It just showed a lack of familiarity with black people. Which is understandable when you have grown up in a place almost entirely populated by white people.
So instead of spending my time fielding unwelcome questions and ignoring uncomfortable stares, I was able to delight in watching Mike’s cousins play with Teddy. They loved him. He was never want for attention. As the youngest in the room, he was often the center of it (although obviously not during the anniversary celebration). One cousin tickled Teddy every chance he got and insisted on a picture with him before he left. Another cousin, 4 years old, happily played babysitter while the adults chatted around the table.
And we got to introduce Teddy to ranch life. Mike’s uncle has several hundred head of cattle, a couple horses, and an extremely friendly dog. The cows and horses didn’t actually seem to faze him much, but he was delighted by the dog—as long as he was safely ensconced in Daddy’s arms, high above. When on the ground, he got quite a few slobbery kisses that freaked him out a bit.
My favorite part of ranch life that we enjoyed but didn’t introduce Teddy to this time was consuming large quantities of beef. Because that beef, of course, comes from cows raised on the ranch. And it tastes amazing. Last time we visited, we were treated to the most delicious steaks I’ve ever eaten. This visit, my beef craving was satisfied with scrumptious burgers. Twice. I could eat burgers every day, anyway. But burgers that come from a cow that once grazed 50 paces away? Man. Each time I feast on this quality of beef, I come away resolved anew to avoid supermarket beef and buy only from the farmers market. (And if the taste didn’t convince me, Mike’s uncle’s lecture about the industrial machine that produces the mince on grocery store shelves would.)
Oh, and the cantaloupe! Mike’s aunt served cantaloupe fresh from her garden! That was a treat we did put on Teddy’s plate. And did he gobble it up! If only we could ship that cantaloupe home…
Ok, I’ve got to stop. My mouth is watering and I want to go back to Nebraska and have a burger and a side of cantaloupe….