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We walked into Carlos O’Brien after a long morning watching the Fiesta Bowl parade. After a year we knew the restaurant would have changed, but were relieved when we walked in and saw that it was exactly the same. We look around and see the televisions by the bar: the channel on a football game, the packman game still right in front of the bathroom doors, the smells of all sorts of Mexican food: enchiladas, quesadillas, and my favorite chips and salsa, all still there as if it was just a day after the last family get together and not a year. While the parents contemplated on how many people were here this year, the kids ran around outside playing tag on the rough pebbled ground, tearing up some of the stunning arrangement of flowers. We sat outside and waited, the adults still inside arguing about the amount of people and the children still extremely sugar high running around, and smelled the picturesque landscape. Just when we were comfortable relaxing outside the restaurant the adults come out still arguing about how many people, even though the finally number was decided, we were waiting for the Tomlinson party of 25.

The wait to get our table ready was not as long as it was the previous years. Only about twenty or so minutes. However, that still was enough time for drama to happen. Already a parent was running outside because one of the little kids were crying since the fell down. Two brothers were arguing whose turn it was to play the game boy. One of the older kids almost broke a glass, but luckily she caught it while falling. We sounded like we were uncivilized people, not knowing proper manners or how to act in public. But we weren’t, we were just a really big family that haven’t had the chance for us all to be together in a almost a year. The tables are ready and they take us to a spot in the back of the restaurant probably so the other customers don’t complain.

The hostess led us to the table, so long that it seemed like a mile away from opposite end. The adults stood around, trying to figure out the most effective sitting arrangement. Different seating arrangements were tried: children on one end adults on another, families sit semi-close together, one adult in the kids section and the rest at a separate area. After additional quarreling the decision was finally made, that the children would sit down first and the adults would simply fill in the empty spots. Shooting a look at the menu the kids shout what they were getting on their multi-colored coloring pages. Their was shuffling of the chairs, complaining of weariness, a huge bang when one of the chairs flipped over, and the kids were off again. Even though they complained about being tired and worn out, the kids ran like their a pot of gold around the corner. The game continued and was evolved to tag while dodging the waiters carrying out hot plates of food to other customers. Kids playing tag is fine, kids playing tag with hot plates all around them not so much.

We end up three completely flustered waiters and two busboys that seemed highly entertained with this whole scene. The parents shouted for each kid in the family to raise their hand so they can put the right orders on the right bills. At the point in time you could totally tell that we were family all the adults ordered margaritas on the rock half with salt and half without it. The kids all ordered some sort of soda, as if they needed the extra sugar in their system. The waiters nodded after we all ordered our drinks and walked to the back. The little kids bored of answering the adults questions settled on coloring. Although it wouldn’t be fun if it was just coloring, so they decided to make it a coloring competition. They worked vigorously on coloring inside the lines and showing the artistic abilities manipulating colors so they would be their own.

The drinks and complimentary chips and salsa come out and everyone dives in like we were starving. While eating we again to the raise your hand when we call your name method to tell one of the guys what you are having to eat. This time the kids aren’t so cooperative they get distracted by shoveling food and then getting upset when salsa lands on the drawings. Finally the orders get taken though and the adults give up on having their children act polite.

The dads turn around and look and the television to watch the game. To their surprise the University of Minnesota game was being televised, but losing like all Minnesota teams at that time. They then switched to talking about the Twins, Vikings, work, and politics. Occasionally they would shout across the table for someone to behave themselves, shrug when the kid ignores it, and then continue with the conversation. The mom’s talk about the kids schools, how they need to hire someone to do the cleaning because the kids never want to do it, creative things, all of that normal mom talk. Then they stop and start quizzing us, the three oldest ones, about school, boys, friends, all of that.

Then the food comes out, practically in a parade of it own. Our three waiters and two new ones shout out the dish while someone raises their hand to claim it. The dishes varied from fajitas to a taco salad, though they all looked extremely good. When we get our dishes we start eating, at a slower pace this time though. The adults still kept talking, the kids tried to keep coloring, we listened to stories about the old times in Minnesota. Then almost everyone switches plates to try something else like a thanksgiving feast. Everyone fills up and the adults look at the damage done showing the bill to their respected other.

After the bill is paid we head outside thanking the workers joking that we will be back the next year. The adults all hug and you could tell they are relieved to see everyone again and sad that everyone has to go. Everyone gets showered in hugs and kisses and then start to head off making promises that we will all get together some other time. That it wouldn’t be another year for us all to see each other again. Empty promises, but still an effort nonetheless, and that night on our way home we talked about everyone and we were happy. Since the six Tomlinson relatives live all over the place and do all sorts of thing it was nice to be together again because they needed each other and no matter how long it has been they would always have each other.





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