Before i could even check in, I'd been hugged by my Auntie from Florida. My Great Auntie was having a drink in the lobby bar area.... I knew she'd be there for a while, so I checked in and went to get hubby.
In one of the nicer hotels in Ames, IA we began the process of "Family Talk". Some families, like Jo(e)'s do actual activites when they get together, we talk. If talking were a sport, our family reunions would be tri-athalons. We on Friday evening with coctails at the Country Club... this isn't a high-falutin country club -- this is the clubhouse of a farming community's golf course... no glam here.. We talked until the little ones got cranky and the responsible parent had exhausted every way to entertain a 2-year old on a putting green (there are an amazing number of ways). The talk split into smaller groups during the day on Saturday, only to re-join for dinner on Saturday night and to wrap-up on Sunday morning for brunch.
The excuse for the reunion, like we really need an excuse, was Grandma's 90th birthday. Of course, Grandma's real birthday is in December --- but, she's healthy and I'm sure she'll make it. I'm not entirely sure Uncle J told her, as she was kind of confused by the birthday cards we brought with her. Next year we'll gather either in May or August for Grandpa and Grandma's 65th wedding anniversary, which is a good enough excuse.
We had a nearly complete reunion this time -- the only major player missing was Great Auntie's younger sister.... the one I'm named after. Shes' getting older and having a harder time getting out and getting around. She was missed, and those who had passed away were missed even more... Great Uncle J and my sister Pam were present and missed at the same time. Both loved these family things and thrived on Family Talk.
All the cousins were there, with a total of five young children... four brilliant little girls and one little boy who looooves girls!
Cousin E's daughter E is the eldest of her generation of cousins, she's 5 and starts kindergarten this year. Little E is a drama queen, for whom good things are "the best ever" and sad things are immense tragedy. Cousin E thinks she gets it from her father's side, I think she might have a touch of grandpa in her -- there is that streak in our family as well. Cousin E also has little C, who isn't going to stay in her sister's shadow for long. She's two and used to standing-up for herself.
The youngest great-grandchild is little A, she's three months old. Her mom, "Angie 1" and her dad, Cousin N, didn't get to hold her much all weekend. Little A is an easy baby who is sleeping thru the night.... I can really see that Cousin N married up when he married "Angie 1" -- good choice! She's a no-nonsense mom who realized early that her daughter was going to have to learn to sleep while normal houshold noise happens... as a result, little A can sleep in the middle of Family Talk.... good going Angie 1 and Cousin N.
In terms of adult news -- We have four new women in the Family ---- three aren't legally in the family, but brining a date to a family runion is nearly a sign of permanent attachment.... so, ladies -- watch out!
Cousin T has a new wife -- the only non-Anglo in the family. She's sweet, smart and very nice. He's become much more cool since moving to the big city -- but he's still the Iowa boy underneath. I am very proud of my family for welcoming D. Everyone wanted to talk to her -- and I could see that, while she was pretty overwhelmed, she felt comfortable and loved. I think that if she can handle the peace corps in Mongolia, she can handle the Family in Iowa! Both of them have new jobs at good schools in The City and a bright future! D -- I can see that you appreciate Cousin T for his quiet grace and strength -- the strength that can be gained only by growing up as a small person in farm country... where everyone is huge.
Uncle R has a new sweetie. Of course, it is pretty inconveninet for them that she lives in Red State (not far from Hubby...) and he lives in Vacation State. Family talk revealed that he's finding any excuse to come to the Midwest and she's trading trips to trade shows to get into Vacation State. They'll take a cruise together pretty soon and she seemed to really like the Family... she's a keeper! It is cute, because they went to high school together and he had a crush on her then... awww--- Uncle R has been separated for years and recently officially divorced. It has been a hard few years for Uncle R, he deserves to have a good time.
Cousin C has a new sweetie, "Angie 3" -- she's bright, raised in California but seems to be a New York girl at heart. Taking her to the Iowa State Fair was really fun! As an artist, she sees the world in a different way -- and having the heart of an artist and the mind of a scientist gives her the quirky point of view that will make our family see things in a new way. Secret message to Cousin C, "Angie 3" is a keeper! If you can't deal with a huge Family wedding, elope... they'll get over it! I'm really happy they plan to move to DC, we can go visit!
Cousin J also has a new sweetie, "Angie 2" -- Angie 2 is quiet and astute observer of Family ways. I'm sure there were better ways for her to spend a long weekend -- and that 24 hours of driving with Cousin N, Angie 1, Cousin C, Angie 3 and little A in a mini-van wasn't nearly as cool as her recent trip to Istanbul...but she handled it all with grace and charm. As we toured the fair, it was clear to me that she and Cousin J are in love and very into one another... and that Angie 2 wants to see the whole world!
Cousin O has finally finished college -- the family can stop worrying about him. He's got a good job working with a challenged population and, like the rest of us, won't ever get rich doing it... but he'll be happy and make a difference in the world, so it is hard to argue with his choices.
Cousin O's sister Little cousin M is a big girl now -- 19 and having a good time at Cheese U. She's finishing an internship in Hollywood and isn't sure she wants to go back. If Cousin M can figure that out in a summer, I think she's saved herself a lot of grief later on.
I noticed a new pattern in my family -- many of the married couples met in high school. Uncle J and Aunt R, Aunt S and Uncle R, Uncle R and J, Me and Hubby, Cousin E1 and D, Cousin E2 and S, Cousin N and "Angie 1". Oddly enough, Grandma and Grandpa met in college and all but one of their grandchildren and grandchildren's spouses have college degrees.
Overall, a good time was had. As Uncle R said, "We come together to eat, drink and divide up the vegetables. Then we go home."