At first the tales seemed somewhat familiar. You knew, almost subliminally, that your "model kids" may have been involved in a drag race or two. But when you start to listen more closely, you suddenly realize that those decadent tire marks a mile out of town, could well have been laid down by your own offspring, instead of by "those other guys" as you had been assured.
The recollections continued - had your boys actually climbed to the top of that new grain leg on the farm? Thankfully, the thought had never occurred to you those many years ago. A challenging road race ending up with a tractor on its side in the ditch -- an event that a somehow the hired man had failed to report -- Had that really happened?
The stories went on from there. I am beginning to wonder, if our time together had not been limited, just how many I might have been privileged (?) to hear. Of course I am aware that my sons, and I'm sure some of yours, are not above embroidering a tale a bit just to get a reaction from Ol' Ma, but nevertheless...
All of this reminds me of a story related some years ago by a delightfully witty distant cousin, who is now deceased. She was telling of their 50th Wedding Anniversary. It seems it was the first time their whole family had been together for some years. In the midst of the program honoring her and her spouse, she realized that their immediate family members were all sitting in one corner of the room, talking and laughing among themselves and paying little, if any, attention to the actual goings on. At this point she interrupted the program and called the situation to their attention. Then her kids protested, "But Mom, it's been ages since we've all been together, and it's such fun recalling all of the things we did when we were at home; things you probably didn't even know about."
To which she had answered, scathingly, "And things I don't WANT to know about." I think she nailed it right there. If you are one of the "kids" reading this, please be sensitive to just what your aging parents can handle, in this department. If you are the "old folks" I advise you to attempt to avoid these confession sessions.
If that's impossible, try to turn a deaf ear (oh yes, sad to say, we all have, or are rapidly developing, one) in their direction, unless you have a strong stomach for some unsavory details.
My tongue is only partially "in cheek". The years have served to soften the impact of much of this. Besides, most grown-up family members now have teen-agers of their own, and we all know how history has a way of repeating itself.. So my real advice is to enjoy your time together with family and old friends. New memories can blot out the scary old ones, and they all are infinitely precious !