Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How To Host a Winning Family Reunion

Step One:  Have your cousin Tiffany do it.
She's a great host and has a huge lovely home with three pools and trees as far as the eye can see.  Let her do the heavy lifting like, organizing, coordinating, and financing the event then you show up and sing a mildly offensive song about reindeer.

Step Two: Attend.
This is really such an important step.  I mean you sit on the fence for just long enough that people are genuinely surprised to see you when you show up, but you do show up.  I mean, afterall, Tiffany went to all that trouble.

Step Three: Reconnect.
There was a time in your life when these strangers were the most anticipated event of your summer.  There was no lag time before you ran screaming into the sugar beet fields not to see your parents for the next 12 hours.

Step Four: See Things for What They Really Were.
Hold on, you didn't see your parents for twelve hours?!  Now that you are older it's time you knew the truth...that was the point.  All that time spent depriving your parents of the opportunity to fulfil your every whim, was the reason they shoved you and your four brothers into a Buick and drove 4 hours. They didn't want to see you...for twelve hours.  Though, it was the 80's so they did let you sleep on the dashboard while they drove...that might have had subcontext as well.

Step Five: Scheme.
You're older now, and those old fools who once dropped you off in Rupert seem to genuinely like to spend time with those vagabonds you are raising; Plan a week to hang out at your parents and let the kids run wild for twelve hours a day.

Step Six:  Eat.
You look around and the realization sits on your chest.  You are old.  The way you used to look at your Aunts and Uncles, like they were old people who hadn't figured it out yet...that's you now, and your cousins kids can't figure out why you keep asking them if they are "Super Stoked" to be there.  They give you that look you used to dole out which means, "Poor, Poor, Cousin Uncle, you have no idea." And also, you don't have any idea, but you do know one thing that those brats can't take that away from you, this chicken in a box is amazing!

Step Seven: Have a Memory Lane.
This is where Tiffany has outdone herself, not only are there jars of candy on each folding table with guessing folders next to each jar, where you guess the amount of candy in each jar, using the guessing folder and the best guess gets said jar of candy, but there is also a memory lane.  This is where she has collected old photographs and hand made dresses and uniforms from the originating family and hung them all on a meandering close line (not unlike the one in front of Gramma's little green house, next to the weeping willow with the monkey swings (another touch Cousin Tiffany has not overlooked)) with old wooden clothes pins allowing the walker to be reminded that there was a time when his parents thought they were young and optimistic and hot.  Thankfully Cousin Tiffany omitted the full length mirror with the plaque that reads "You are now looking at what happens between these pictures and those old people sneaking candy out of the guessing jars and sneaking back in the wrappers so the count won't be off."  That was a classy edit.

Step Eight: Sing Your Mildly Offensive Song About a Reindeer Despite Your Grandmothers Request for a Hymn.
Afterall, you said you would, and luckily Uncle Jeff has a magic show following your song, so it will be quickly swept under the rug.

Step Nine: Begin to Regret:
Things are winding down and you realize you have squandered your time adding post-it note quips to the photos in 'Memory Lane' and now you won't see these people for another 30 years.

Step Ten: The Love Scramble:
You begin your scramble to have loving, thoughtful connections with 47 different relatives, which only leaves you about 30 seconds for each.  You wonder if you did it wrong and if you should have just spent all your time with one long lost cousin, but then Aunt Susan reminds you that these kinds of check in's are needed too. And even if you can't name all your second cousins step kids, at least you had this day, under these trees, in these pools, with these people, who are forever part of who you are. And you load up your own kids, who now run the world, and you drive away down that long wooded driveway feeling filled and grateful for the new snapshots of faces of the people who were some of the first faces your memory ever snapped shots of.  And you think to yourself, "Thank Heavens, for Cousin Tiffany, she has got some major cleaning up to get to!" 

A Remembering of The Haynes Family Reunion 2013             
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