Friday, October 10, 2008

Ahh, weekends.

There are few things better than a long weekend with a promising weather forecast.

It's finally Thanksgiving weekend, and it's a fairly big deal in my family. This year marks the 19th year of an annual family wide gathering of my mom's family. Each year we rent a local hall, decorate and set the tables for approximately 50 family members. In my mother's family there were 7 kids (6 of whom still lived in the same town) and, together with their children and grandchildren, the family total is around 66 people. Of course, not everyone can make it every year so numbers vary from year to year.

Over the years the event has been refined somewhat. In it's original incarnation, mom and her two sisters would buy the groceries, cook the meal, serve the meal and do the dishes later. I mean, that's what happens for most every other holiday meal, so this followed the same pattern. A few years ago, one of them got wise. Now, no one can say they're stupid women. I mean it only took about 10, 11 years to figure this out: they were doing all the work, and the men and "kids" weren't doing much to help out. So, they issued a proclamation. They would still get groceries, but the next generation of women were to be responsible for the cooking and serving, and the men had to do the dishes. As a veteran hater of doing dishes, and actually enjoying cooking, I was good with that.

So, for the past few years we go to the hall the evening before and set up tables and chairs and decorate. Then, day of, we peel potatoes and veggies and set out pickles, S&P, etc. in the mornings and generally get the meal ready. Everyone shows up about an hour before supper is to be served to share some family time with everyone. After supper, we watch the men stagger about the kitchen bumping into each other (although, it's getting better in there) and settle down for some evening entertainment. Typically that would involve family members or family friends with guitars, and lots of drinks for everyone. Standard end time is usually 2am or better, with hangovers present for the next morning clean-up.

In the last couple of years, we tried adding things to make this more of a full-day event. A couple of years ago we had skits/songs after supper wherein my sisters and I (and a couple of cousins) made up a song about our get togethers and did a little skit making fun mom and her siblings. You probably had to be a family member to appreciate it, but it was Hil-lar-ee-ous!!! Another year a cousin organized an Amazing Race! That was great fun, and worked up an appetite for turkey! Last year after supper we played Jeopardy with most of the questions being about the family, a couple of thanksgiving categories, and a couple of general categories. Also very good for a laugh.

The plan for this year is another amazing race for the afternoon, with a song/skit after supper. We've hired a Karaoke guy for the evening entertainment and the whole day promises to be a blast. I can't wait. I loves me some Karaoke.

Of course, each year brings the realization that we're not getting any younger. As a family, we've been extremely fortunate with regards to loss of family members. Over the past 19 years, I've lost one young cousin to an accident, our two oldest family members (great-aunt and uncle) to the ravages of time, and my dad to cancer. Each year with such a loss is a tear-filled supper. This year marks the first year one of my mom's siblings will be no longer with us. My uncle passed away from cancer earlier this year and that will make this dinner very difficult to get through. Each year another uncle will highlight the family ups and downs and what we should be thankful for. He will have a difficult time this year now that his brother is one of the downs. We're a very sentimental family, so there will be a lot of tears around the family table. And yet, we wouldn't have it any other way. When you love hard, you cry hard.

All in all, it's a great event. Family home from everywhere, good food, good fun, singing and carrying on, 4 generations involved and getting along, a long weekend and good weather. What more can you ask for? Here's hoping everyone's weekend will be as fun.


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