Small Town News

Small Town Life

Family reunions evolve over the years

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

- Advertisement -


The family reunion, it's considered a summer classic, right up there with other sophisticated gatherings, such as a good old-fashioned saloon fight or my favorite, the office Christmas party. And we all know how that turned out; mostly you can't ever show your face at any corporate office ever again.

Each year, the family reunion seems to get smaller and smaller though, with members sending in excuses like summering in Pakistan or having booked a cruise to Somalia. Yeah that's it, they'll swear when their absence is brought up, the reduced rates in a war zone were too much to pass up. We all know though, some will go to any lengths to avoid that uncle who jiggles coins in his pants pockets and asks if they've landed a man on the moon yet.

There is a lot of pressure to attend these events too. Organizers do not take no for an answer. After all, a lot of potato salad is at stake here. In my case, it usually is the same cousin, whom I haven't seen on a one-on-one basis since she was promoted to drill sergeant in the Women's Army Corps. We weren't too worried about her influence back then, since she was only stationed in Georgia and rarely got home.

Once she was discharged though, she took over the reins of the family events. We could all come up with excuses for holidays, but come summer, that family reunion loomed large. Sure we had visions of folks hanging around the barbecue, eating hamburgers and corn, kids swinging on ropes over the lake and the sound of laughter from a game of horseshoes or badminton.

As I said, those were mainly visions and usually from watching commercials for Coca-Cola and especially Mountain Dew. I have a case of the same soda in my garage and I still get nothing from it. Instead what arrives on the scene is the biggest collection of T-shirts with political sayings, which gets pretty dicey after a couple of cases of Bud Light; shorts that are too short and disappear in some part of the anatomy; and hairpieces that look like a robin's nest that fell out of a tree. It's not a pretty picture and certainly not commercial-inducing material.

But beyond appearances, there is the most important aspect of the family reunion, old grudges. Now these include things said, but unconfirmed from the past, invitations to weddings and birthdays allegedly not received and allegations of food poisoning, usually from the last family reunion and may or may not include hot-dogs. And when I say the past, we are talking about at least 20 years ago.

Not returning items is also grounds for not speaking to another relative, usually lasting in the eight-to 10-year sentence range. I can remember a pie pan my Aunt Kitchy swears she gave back to my mother, only to be shunned for the next decade for non-return of goods rumors. Eventually, my mother found the pie pan on the back shelf of the pantry. The pie pan was made of tin and cost 50 cents. The grudges and not speaking over slights are always passed down through generations, so you may not know who you are supposed to sit or speak with. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting alone under a tree with a guy wearing a work-release shirt. It's best to get that scorecard straightened out before you arrive; a lot could and probably did happen.

It's always safer to show rather than send your regrets. You are prime fodder for gossip if you renege. It can't be that bad, unless you have uncles with first names like Vito, who pull up with a bunch of hibachis that just happened to fall off the back of a truck and into the trunk. You'll want to be there for a show of solidarity. No worries here; no photos are allowed.

Copyright 2016 Cape Gazette, Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 15, 2016

More from Cape Gazette