Like The Queen
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2 Comments:

Delightful! I'm sure I have cousins somewhere but I don't know any of them, at least not anymore. So happy for you and all the good things this year's reunion brought.

By Blogger Larry, at 7:46 AM  

This sounds like such fun! I've lost touch with almost all my cousins through family changes, and a reunion sounds wonderful.

By Anonymous diann, at 7:57 PM  

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Sunday, August 10, 2008  

TheReunion




For 14 years TheReunion has been highlighted by a weekend visit from FavoriteCousins. First they came as young parents of wee babies, then young parents of school children and now they're parents of college kids and last year they were too busy with coming home from summer jobs and packing to head off to school to get to TheReunion at all. It was the same for them this year. In addition, OtherFavoriteCousins scattered far across the country weren't going to make it. This happens. Sometimes life just has other plans. Last year we were the ones who missed TheReunion since BD was just hours out of eye surgery and was not in any condition to go to a party. But this break in what had become a loving routine, coupled with my June and July blue-devil-doldrums had left me feeling pretty neutral about this ancient family gathering. I had begun to wonder if 150 years was long enough to hold a family gathering. I didn't even need it as weather punctuation, as that annual assurance that the worst of the summer heat was over and autumn was on its way. We've had such glorious weather I don't really long for the end of summer. I could do 360 days of this stuff.

BH felt the same way, I know, so it was with a mild but pleasant disconnect that we spent Friday and Saturday morning getting things ready. We have a sweet little Friday routine where we get our nails done and have a pedicure and then go shopping for paper products, always forgetting something – this year I will make a list so that we can just check it off next August – and having to scramble for either name tags or ice or the address notebook. We bought lemonade, made sure the church would be open, talked about what we would wear – but really, we were just being nice about it. I didn't even plan Saturday evening's meal, since with only BH and her girls coming up for swimming afterwards, we would probably have enough leftovers from lunch to make up a meal.

Saturday morning dawned crisp enough to warrant a sweatshirt on my morning walk, at least till I got out into the sunshine. It was a breezy puffy-cloud day. With no guests in the house, everyone had a shower and there were plenty of towels and all the time we needed to get dressed. We were at the church way early, even with a stop at the post office, where the Saturday clerk fumbled for 20 minutes with the rate book.

We pay someone to set up and take down the tables and empty the trash so that no branch of this extended family has to bear an unfair burden and the church was all set up when we got there. All that was needed was to make the tea and lemonade, because the meal is pot luck. The tables had been set up in a slightly more efficient way so that more people could eat indoors. One of those odd twists that happens, since this was the one year we could have all eaten comfortably outside. With a smaller crowd expected (about 75 people) everyone got to eat indoors. There were fewer deserts than usual, though there were plenty of them, not enough ham biscuits but, for once, enough deviled eggs.

What there was in abundance, though, was More Favorite Cousins. Not that these were unknown cousins. They're the North Carolina cousins, just as nice as they can be, sweet, lively, musical (a rarity in the H Family). But this was the year I really got to know them. This is the year they were staying at the hotel in town, not the hotel in Richmond. This is the year when I had no FavoriteCousins or OtherFavoriteCousins to catch up with. This is the year there was time to do more than smile and explain the lineage and offer a glass of lemonade. This year MoreFavoriteCousins came to dinner up at our house.

When BH whispered to me that they were staying in Tappahannock, when Cousin N said she'd love to see some of the family spots, when BD offered to drive them around to see Midway and Holly Springs and Retreat, oh my. Then I knew TheReunion still had the magic. And no doubt about it. I am in love! All over again I've found MoreFavoriteCousins. Once again I'm awash in the wealth of love and pleasure and delight at having kinfolk as sweet, as fun, as interesting, with such lively eyes and happy faces and ready warmth as MoreFavoriteCousins. Best of all, these cousins sing! Cousin R helped me in the kitchen and we sang old songs in 2 part harmony, his baritone with my mezzo, alas, with me stumbling over words, but oh such fun! And he promised to bring song books next time and I promised to get the ones from the library. And Cousin A told us about his new wife and had a photo and she's beautiful and there will be a baby next year. And Cousin N talked books and literature with BH and me. And as the evening wore on, that darling southern tradition unfolded where the women gather on the soft chairs in the living room while the men sit on the porch with glasses in hands and legs stretched out.

Honestly is there anything better than cousins? Wonderful, interesting, connected cousins. People you could call if your car broke down in a strange city. People who will email you photos and send you Christmas cards. Really, I can't believe how lucky I am to have these fantastic cousins. All over again I'm inspired to keep up with the (slight) chores of this reunion because that stretchy band of kinship has reached out and gathered in another branch of the family and made them mine.

I can't wait till next year's reunion!

posted by Bess | 9:22 AM
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