Two weeks ago we had the privilege of hosting my mom’s family reunion. She has 7 siblings, whose families are spread across the country. There is a gathering every year in July, but usually it’s been in the east, nearer a larger concentration of various family members. Until last year, Neil was a co-director of a jr high camp that usually happened around the same time, so we’ve not been able to attend. This year, it came to us. Almost everyone in the family lives at least 12 hours away from us by car, so we were honored that so many people were able to make it her. Preparing for this event prompted us to clean out lots of places around our home, which is always daunting, but equally cleansing. (See this post for Neil’s tech gear breakdown breakthrough). And let me just say that my husband is absolutely brilliant when it comes to hosting larger events. Brilliant. Where my little introverted, structured self locks up, his extroverted, outside-the-box optimism shines.
While there were lots of things we didn’t get done like we had hoped, when people started arriving, we DID have a place for everyone to sleep, counting bedrooms, floors, and 3 campers parked behind the barn. Everyone works together to prepare for meals, clean-up, etc. This is a family that really enjoys being together; there is much laughter, unending conversations, and even tears. Click below to see a few pictures.
The Place: our house and barn. The inside of the barn is finished party space (really!) so was a great place to eat, talk, play…
Make Fire Cook Meat: our special guest, borrowed from our friend who owns this company. Neil found a new kindred-spirit-grill-master-friend when he met one of my uncles for the first time at this event. They ‘worked’ all day smoking what seemed to be unending amounts of chicken and ribs. Which we ate.
The Tribute: my brothers and I took the opportunity to surprise our parents with a bit of a tribute honoring their anniversary, which was on this same weekend. My brother Trent prepared something he called ‘The Story of Our Parents As Told Primarily Through Approximations of American Folk Song’. Derek & I had roles as narrators and sometimes singers, but the magic was in the weaving of our family’s story through hilarious as well as poignant words set to familiar songs. We laughed. We cried. (This family cries. A lot.)
When my parents were in college, they were in a music group that recorded an album. My mom’s brothers and sisters had all listened to that album lots and lots of times back in the day, so the grand finale was inviting my parents join us in leading everyone in a rousing rendition of ‘The Crooked Little Man’. This tribute time led to a spontaneous time of sharing songs, memories, grief over the difficult things that have happened within the larger family, and prayer for those who are dealing with difficulties currently. By the end of the night, it felt as though we had been on holy ground for hours.
Thank you to all who helped make this weekend so much fun, and full of so much meaning.