Monday, June 6, 2011

The joy of family

When I was growing up, family reunions were always the highlight of my summer.  I loved listening to my aunts and uncles chat, tease, joke, and laugh.  I loved hanging out with cousins I only saw once a year, and eating all those great summer picnic type foods.  It was hot, sweaty, loud, and fun!


My family has two reunions each summer.  One in July at my parents' home which is more specific to my Dad's siblings, and one in June at my Uncle's house which pulls from farther out on the family tree.  We usually try to make it to ONE reunion each summer, though there are years we don't make it to either one.  And it's one of the highlights of my kids' summer, too.


This past weekend, we were at my Uncle's house in Oklahoma.  We're home now, exhausted, sunburned, and bug-bitten.  We've washed off the sweat, the pond scum and the fish guts ... but the memories will last forever.  All the way home, the kids relived moments from the reunion.  We shared moments that not everyone had been part of, and rehashed conversations.  Despite the bickering that ensues when 10 tired people climb into a single vehicle, we were still drawn closer together as a family.


Every time we stopped for a bathroom break, my 5 year old would wake up again and start to tell us how much she missed her 4 year old cousin.  Our 10 and 7 yo boys talked about the fish they'd caught and the time they'd spent hanging out with my uncle's step-grandkids.  They decided they were their "sorta-cousins".  It's all family and it's all good.


I wish I'd written down all the funny things my kids said or did this weekend.  I laughed so many times and thought "I should blog that", but another family story or water gun fight would chase the thought away.   It was a joy to watch the little kids play with their cousins ... so hard they barely stopped to eat.  It was a blessing to watch my teens fish with their younger siblings, take photos of the entire family, play with little cousins, and just enjoy the family conversations.


I love family reunions.  I love my family.  I feel sorry for families that don't have family reunions.  Remind me ... someday ... I need to host family reunions here for my own children and grandchildren.  Maybe by then we'll have more than one bathroom, but even if we don't, both of our annual family reunions have proved it can be done with just one bathroom.  (Though my parents now have two bathrooms and my uncle often has a travel trailer that has a bathroom that a select few know about.)


And now ... I guess it's time to unpack and clean this house.  I have stinky wet laundry to wash, because my kids played really hard this weekend.  And the rest of us ... well, we sweated a lot.


I hope you get to spend time with your extended family this summer, as well.


Sunburned and happy,
April E.

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