Spent the last few days with family in Qatar. It is always odd seeing ordinary family life going on somewhere exotic, somewhere so foreign. Of course, we've done it too, in Thailand, but that was a long time ago. It is just proof that home and family can be wherever you make it. However you make it.
It was lovely to see BIL and SIL again, and of course, our 13-year-old nephew too. We don't know him that well - over the years have only seen him a few times, and being a boy he's a bit more reticent with us than his sister (who had the advantage of knowing us well before she left the country). We had the opportunity to attend a major milestone for my nephew, and whilst he may not have realised it, it meant a lot to me that we could be there for it - supporting him, supporting his parents, and being part of the family. I talked to his mother about it. She acknowledges that she misses her family, having community and family around her for such events, so she appreciated us being there. And I said to her too, that the childless aunt and uncle appreciated being there, as we don't get to be part of milestones like this. It is one of my major sadnesses - that most of my nieces and nephews live so far away, and only know me as a theoretical name, the mysterious "Auntie (Mali)."
But at least this day wasn't sad. And I was glad to kick off our trip in this way.