My Family Reunion
Submitted by My Family Reunion
A few weeks ago, my entire family gathered on the freezing cold Oregon coast for a good 'ole family vacation. There were 38 of us in all—yes, 38 aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, long-lost nephews and soon-to-be grandmas—all crammed into one floor of one very crowded and very overwhelmed-by-us hotel.
The whole idea of 38 people—wait, strike that, 38 related people—going on vacation at the same time was certainly not my idea. It was actually the brainchild of my 83-year-old grandmother who decided it would be fun to get the entire family together to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the day she immigrated to the United States from Finland. She wanted to have a party—and in her mind, she needed every.single.one of her relatives to be present.
I admit: I didn't want to go at ALL. What if my crazy Aunt Not-Naming-Names did something, well, crazy? And what if Uncle Grumpy and Aunt Aggression decided to have another one of their knock-down-drag-out brawls? And that doesn't even account for the fact that my 2-year-old is in a biting phase and my 4-year-old is in a not-sleeping phase. It sounded like a nightmare to me. But it meant a lot to my grandmother—so, I had to suck it up and go along.
After all of my whining and complaining, the trip ended up being—get this—a blast. My kids built sandcastles with my grandmother. My cousins and I huddled into a hotel room after the kids went to bed and drank cheap wine and talked about the good old days. My grandmother squeezed herself into the dress she wore on the day she arrived in the U.S.—and reenacted her entire trip for us—bumpy plane ride and all. And through it all—through 2-year-olds' tantrums, noisy disagreements, photo sessions and family dinners—we managed to unite as a family and have fun.
The thing I've realized is that family vacations aren't supposed to be squeaky-clean and relaxing. They're messy. And loud. And crowded. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to have the right mind-set. Because there's nothing like some messy, loud and crowded bonding to really bring a family together.