I remember... staying at my great-grandma Wertie's house and getting a chance to brush her long gray hair before her daughters put it up into a bun for her. I remember watching little boys eating apples, walking bare foot and playing with the cats. I remember each one of my great aunts and uncles were so different, so funny and sweet. I remember home baked pies, and softball games, volley ball and stories. And their stories of growing up in Northern Michigan got into my DNA.
As an adult, Mr. Pete and I have kept up the tradition, first as an engaged couple and then married and then with kids. I'll never forget the reunion when the family included Mr. Pete in one of the skits - he and several other inlaws and and various cuzins were left holding a laundry cord and the punch line was some fishing reference to "suckers on a line." Everyone cracked up - that's when I knew Mr. Pete was now a complete honorary part of the extended family. Or the time that two other family husbands kidnapped Mr. Pete almost as soon as he got out of the van on our arrival. He had his own "niche" in the family.
There was a bit of time when the original ten started to get old and die away. That was always sad. One reunion was held inside the town hall and the cousin holding it that year spent so much time reminiscing and crying over what was gone that it was a real downer. I think that's the year my son Calvin decided he would no longer return. He wasn't the only one. There is a chronic list of second and third generation cousins that aren't coming to the reunions. I wouldn't know these folks if I passed them on the street.
But yet there is another group of us that have taken the ball and run with it. Some of the younger first cousins and us middle-aged second cousins are changing the way the reunion works and dividing the workload. And kids are showing up and having a blast! Last year I took over the daunting task of sending out the reminders for the reunion and even putting it up on Facebook. This was after another cousin had taken the initiative to put everyone's information into digital form. For the last four years the reunion has bounced around between three different houses that live in the immediate area but next year a little committee is going to find a park for us to gather in. It'll work! and we're already looking forward to it!
Keeping cousins close!
Aunt Dot keeps order!
The three tenors?
An all round good time!