That time when you misread the prompt and spend half an hour looking through old family reunion photos because you think you are writing about family reunions, not family photos.
So I’m just going to run with that here.
It wasn’t until I was a missionary that I first realized not everyone in the world grew up knowing their cousins and getting together with at least most of them (every year on my dad’s side, every few years on my mom’s side) regularly to hang out, catch up, play silly games, eat together, and just have a great time.
When I was a kid we would gather annually at Bear Lake for the Robert R. Rex Family Reunion. Bear Lake Monster. Sunburns. Sand in our toes and sometimes our teeth. Boating and waterskiing and just all around fun.
I remember one time as a teenager completely freaking out when they wanted me to take my baseball cap off so they could see my eyes in the family picture. I had beach hair decades before you paid good money to spray salt water in your hair and create beach hair on purpose and I was so embarrassed. The funny thing is, there were so many of us then (there are over 300 of us now–we’ve lost track of the count), it’s not like anyone would have recognized or noticed me. But to a vain teenage girl it was the worst thing ever and I was fit to be tied.
A few years ago we were looking back through old photos and I found the one from that reunion and I’m still embarrassed I threw such a big fit. But the memory also gives me perspective when my own teenagers are exasperating.
Another time for some reason we just decided to have it at my grandparents house in Randolph, pitching who knows how many tents throughout my grandparents yard for all the kids. I remember pulling an all-nighter playing monopoly by flashlight in a tent with my older cousins. I got beat. I hate getting beat.
One year it was my turn to plan the reunion and we held it at the Chalet on the banks of Deer Creek Reservoir. It’s a lot of work planning meals for the masses, but fortunately everyone is great about helping and it was one of my favorites.
The photos above are from just over three years ago when my NW cousins invited us to come to them at Whidbey Island. It was perfect. We rented a Chrysler Town & Country because we weren’t sure our old minivan could get us there without any trouble and it was probably the last time we’d be able to get our entire family in one vehicle with seatbelts. We stopped in Portland and house/dog-sitted for my brother Keith and his family who were not going to make it to the reunion, hit Cannon Beach and just reveled in the weirdness that is Portland and is as comfortable to me as a favorite sneaker. We had a fun time getting to know our brand new daughter-in-law and appreciated her patience getting to know our brand of crazy. It was really a perfect time and I’m so glad we all went!
[Day 40 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]