Last week Adelaide and I flew to Texas for a vacation and family reunion. She was super excited to fly in an airplane and see Papa Eugene, Grandma Ruth, Aunt Gina and her cousins. Although this was technically her third trip via plane, she doesn’t remember the other two. So, on Wednesday we flew to Dallas-Fort Worth to see cousins I haven’t seen in over 10 years.
My dad’s brother, his wife and their three kids (and their kids), as well as my dad’s sister and her four kids (and their kids) all live in the DFW area. My sister flew in from L.A. We flew in from Philly, and my parents and grandpa flew in from Central Illinois. The whole group of us hadn’t been together since my grandma’s funeral in 2003. Even then I remember thinking how much Grandma would have loved to have seen us all together and how it was too bad that it took her death for us all to be willing to make the trip. Since then, there have been several weddings, but it was only death that brought every single one of us together. Until now.
Around Christmas my sister and I were talking about getting together at the end of March when the school she works at was on Spring Break. She wanted to get together somewhere other than where we live–somewhere in between that wasn’t at our parents house in Illinois. She thought, wouldn’t it be fun to fly to Dallas and see our Texas cousins. Mom and Dad and Grandpa could fly down too. Gina thinks it’s pretty wild that we took her crazy idea seriously.
My grandpa got to see all three of his kids, all nine of his grandchildren and all eight of his great-grandchildren in one place. It was a wonderful afternoon with lots of food, good conversation and beautiful weather.
My aunt Debbie brought old photo albums with her, and my cousin Kelly had another crazy idea that we all took seriously. Inspired by Buzzfeed’s 21 Family Photos: Then and Yikes (and others like it), we somehow roped everyone into reenacting several old photos. Some were more successful than others, but they were all a lot of fun. At one point, I looked to my cousins’ spouses lining the back wall, varying degrees of mortified.
“What were you guys thinking?” I asked. “You married into this family–you chose to be part of this. We were just born into it.”
My cousin Natalie’s husband just shook his head and said, “We didn’t know what we were getting into.”
Everyone was such a good sport (it wouldn’t have worked otherwise). I highly recommend getting out old photo albums and giving it a shot at your next family reunion. It’s a great way to break the ice for people who haven’t seen each other in a long time.