31 July 2009

Family reunion

Last weekend we went to S's family reunion/retirement party and I actually had wished we could have stayed longer. The weather was fantastic, the lake was outstanding, and the company was great.

I got to finally meet some of S's family, he has seven aunts and uncles, all with children and many with grandchildren. The ones I met were easy to talk to and accepted me and my boys without question. With my ex-in-laws I remember feeling on display quite a bit. I felt they were looking down their noses at me in disapproval most of the time. With S's family they acted like I was ok no matter what. It was weird. Good, but weird. This family doesn't seem to care how the rest of the world views them, they don't go out of their way to make a good impression or 'put on airs'. They just be. I like that. They told me the story of how some of the uncles decided to renovate the house one night. Upon deciding to put a door in they promptly brought out the chainsaw and cut a hole in the wall. From the inside. In the dead of winter. At night. Oh yeah, this was after drinking a fair bit of beer. Or how one uncle was sitting in a tiny bathroom decided it needed a second entrance and refused to leave the bathroom until his renovation was complete. So again, cut a hole in the wall from the inside of the bathroom, filling the room with fumes. After laughing at the story I wondered...what was a chainsaw doing in the little bathroom to begin with? They are good-natured people that are comfortable with the 'redneck' label :)

My boys stayed with S's mom overnight - we (ok, I) decided that two nights away from home would be too much, while S and I stayed in the hotel. We checked into the hotel and put our stuff in the room before the party. It was very hot out so it was a blessing to find out that the room was air conditioned, and that we could control the temperature. It was set at 73 F, but I remember my mom never letting it get above 70 F when I was growing up so I turned it down a bit. I didn't want the room too warm when we got back. After the party we were both all sticky from heat and bug spray and looking forward to a nice, cool hotel room. We opened the door to discover we could almost see our breath in the cold. I guess 60 F was too low to set the temperature. So I had to dress in S's warm clothes (I only brought shorts and sleeveless tops) while S warmed the sheets for me. I don't like cold sheets.

I tried to sleep, I really did, but the constant drizzling sound of the air conditioner when it was off and the blasting when it was on kept me up. At 3:30 am I woke S and asked if anything was open. I was getting hungry and when I'm hungry I have to pee. The hungrier I get the more I pee. This cycle is counter-productive to sleep, so off we were in search of something to eat. The first thing we heard after pulling out of the hotel lot was an odd noise of plastic bouncing off asphalt. This turned out to be a skunk that had it's head trapped in a Tim Horton's Iced Cap cup. Poor thing. I wanted to help but didn't bring extra clothes to change into in case the skunk sprayed me. There was a group of young men (boys, really) that came by in a minivan that managed to get the cup off the skunk. After dropping a coat on the skunk, gently stepping on the skunk and getting sprayed by the skunk. I'm glad the skunk was ok and I'm glad it wasn't me that got sprayed :) We did find a 7-11 (after turning down the McD's) and got food, which I ate, so I could finally sleep....for three and a half hours. Then I was up for good. Surprisingly, I wasn't grumpy from lack of sleep. But I figured I must have been on an Up because the drive wasn't too bad getting there (three hours in a car, ick) and I felt at ease the whole time. Normally I'd be a bit Ball O Nerves with all the newness of everything.

As much as I was glad to be home I also wanted to stay. At work on Monday I looked down at my feet and wished they were still in the cold, clean water of the lake. When we went to S's mom's to pick up the boys the next day, one woman told me that she was supposed to be in at work on Sunday. I pointed out that it was Sunday and she was four hours from home. She said she'd call in and just take the day off and suggested I do the same for Monday if I want to stay. I told her it's just not my style to do that. I'm supposed to be at work so I will be at work. But I do want to go back to the lake and spend more time there. They have Provincial Parks around the lake that have several clean and uncrowded entry points. I only got to see one with a tiny beach, but it was beautiful :) The lake is huge - I couldn't see the coastline on the horizon - and has a big chunk of ice in the center so the water is cold all the time. Very refreshing. It might also be fun to charter a boat and have someone take us around the lake to see the other side. Maybe next year. Since we only stayed one night I still have a $150 gift card to Best Western hotels that won't expire. We can use that to keep the next trip inexpensive.

One thing that did bother me at the family reunion was the free flowing alcohol. I'm just not used to it. And I have a twisted, uptight view of alcohol. It tastes good, but why bother with the mood altering effects? It's primarily a depressant which sucks, and it makes people feel bad the next day...so why bother? I know people like it but my brain just talks me out of drinking it all the time. Partly because I don't ever want my boys to see me drunk or high (yes, there was pot at the party, too, but kept away from the main gathering) and partly because there is some alcoholism in my family that keeps me sober. I don't ever want to be dependent on the stuff and don't like the odds of that happening, so I don't partake in it. Much to the dismay of one uncle...it seemed that I was the odd one out for not drinking. I was more amused by his attitude than offended. But it did feel a bit backwards to have drinking as the norm.

I grew up wishing my family had reunions. I would read about them in books and wonder what it'd be like to have one and really get to know my relatives. S's family has one every year, usually lasting three days. I find that amazing :) Most of them live in the small city that we visited last weekend, so everyone is close by. They have done things in the past like have baseball or curling tournaments with just family (there is a lot of them). Again, amazing. My older sister went to a reunion with my aunt and cousin. I don't know who all was there and when I saw a photo of the event I could only place my sister, her boyfriend and one cousin. I have no idea who the rest of them were. After searching more photos on Facebook I was able to figure out one or two more, but that's it. I haven't seen them since my grandmother died in 1992 and would have liked to catch up with them, but I wasn't invited to the reunion. I don't know if it took place specifically because my sister was visiting them or if it was arranged first and my sister arranged her vacation so she could be there. Either way, I would have loved the opportunity to meet some of these people and see what they are like. Do they share similar traits? Similiar mental illnesses? What are their lives like? That kind of thing. I'm really very nosy :) Maybe next reunion I'll get the chance, until then I'll find them on Facebook and get to know them a bit that way.

...sigh...I'm still wanting more relaxing beach/water time. And a new swimsuit. I tried mine on and discovered that although spandex can stretch a lot, there is a limit to it's expansion capabilities. When we were at the lake on the weekend I just waded in until the bottom of my shorts were damp. Someone commented when we got back to the party that I looked like I wet myself. I told them I cooled only the important bits with water :) Somehow the comment wasn't offensive or mean. Maybe it's my Up, maybe it's S's family, time will tell.


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

lol, except the part where there were other people around, it sounded fun. oh, except the hotel too. i love hotels, but they aggravate my allergies (i tell myself that it's my dust allergy acting up... and not my cockroach allergy).

i'm glad it was fun for you. although alcohol has its many downsides, have you considered that it can also contribute to people's easygoingness? it has been called a 'social lubricant', so maybe for that family, it helps them to relax and be themsmselves... in their easygoing kinda way...

Chantelle said...

The reunion I went to was arranged specifically because we were going to be in that area and I wanted to see everyone there.

Because I have stage IV cancer, it is very, very important to me to make connections with my entire family... including aunts and cousins that I hadn't seen in over 15 (or 25) years.

So I emailed that side of the family and asked if it was possible to meet them while we were there.

I'm sorry, it didn't occur to me to invite anyone else from this side of the family. I wish you'd said something before the trip when plans could have been changed, because the reunion is over now.