Tomorrow we go to Stockholm for a week, where we are staying with Gabe’s cousin, B., and his lovely family. These are very recent additions to Gabe’s family — or at least we only found out about them recently. It’s a pretty amazing story, something far more fitting for a soap opera or a documentary than real life. I wanted to write about it in detail after we met them in January, but somehow never got a chance to do so. Here’s a brief rundown, although I would love to write a much longer piece about their story.

B. is the son of Gabe’s uncle, D, and a Swedish woman that he met as a young man. Both D and the Swedish woman have passed away now, but B. only found out who his father was towards the end of his mother’s life. Since he had gone most of his own life without knowing much about where he came from, he was happy to continue that way, but his two girls were not. They started searching for their grandfather, and last year, they met with success.

With the help of the Salvation Army, the girls contacted Gabe’s cousins in LA (Uncle D’s other children), and an email correspondence ensued. That was all that B. and his family ever expected to come from their discovery — maybe a few emails or phone calls, some history about the family, and that was about it.

Little did they realize just what kind of family my in-laws are. Like myself, they are family junkies. That’s why it’s never really mattered to them that I’m technically not Jewish — I get what their holidays are about: food and family. Lots of both. So for them, finding out they have new family members is like a kid in a candy store. Woohoo! More family! More fun! So a simple exchange of emails was just not going to cut it.

Before long, B. and his family had made plans to visit California over the holidays. We were lucky enough to meet them when we went home, and I was hugely impressed with their sweet, quiet natures (the quiet part must be from his mother’s side!) and their ability to withstand a maelstrom of attention and activity. Every day was filled with crowds of new people, many of whom burst into tears at the sight of B., who apparently resembled his father a great deal. They also did a full whirlwind tour of both LA and the Bay Area, walking up and down Telegraph Hill, taking cable cars, going to lunch in Marin… the whole nine yards. Even I was exhausted after only a few days of their hectic pace, but they never seemed to flag one bit.

When they left, we all promised to go and see them — as one does. But when we got back to Portugal, Gabe and I looked at each other and said, “You know, I think I really do want to go and see them.” Even though we’d barely met them, and that in a pressure cooker of introductions and new people, they’d made a great impression on both of us, and we wanted to get to know them better. (It helped that they live Stockholm, of course. We may have been less inclined to visit them if they were in a more distant or less picturesque location. “Siberia? Oh, how nice for you.”)

So tomorrow, off we go. They are very excited to have us, and are planning to take the whole week off to show us around Stockholm. I don’t blame them — if I’d grown up not knowing anything about where I came from, a visit from brand new family members would be an exciting thing indeed. I just hope we make a good showing for the California clan — such pressure!

I will try to write while we’re there, but you can be sure that I will take lots and lots of pictures. I know you were worried! A bientot, mes amis…

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