Elizabeth (greyautumnrain) wrote,
Elizabeth
greyautumnrain

A new love of family reunions

We spent half a week in Florida, visiting Warren’s father and extended family. It wasn’t near any of the traditional vacationing spots in Florida; it’s inland and about an hour’s travel north of Tampa. The family has farmed there since the late 1800s. Much of the farmland has now been converted to lots where the older generation has houses, but there’s still a sizable cow pasture, and Warren’s Aunt Virginia has a nice flock of chickens.

I had a lovely time. While I was having a lovely time I also reflected that this was exactly the type of vacation that I hated as a teenager. I think I was 14 the last time I went to a reunion of my mother’s maternal relations in Kentucky, and I didn’t have a good time. We were out in the middle of nowhere, it was hot and sticky and there were bugs everywhere, and there was nothing to do but talk to relatives that I didn’t have much in common with. Two big things have changed since then that have vastly changed my outlook on such gatherings: air conditioning is now much more common in the south and I have two cute kids to show off. Actually, the A/C in my FIL’s house was out for nearly a day and I still had a good time because I was surrounded by people who admired my babies at every opportunity. I think I’m also a bit better about talking to people these days, enough to appreciate that many of Warren’s relatives are pretty interesting people, though the fact that they all took an instant liking to my kids certainly helped matters.

I think the kids had a good time too. Margaret became fascinated by her great aunt’s flock of chickens, and started demanding to go out and see them several times a day. She also parlayed this into a visit to Aunt Virginia’s house, where there were two dogs and three cats. I started referring to this as ‘Aunt Virginia’s petting zoo’. It was a big hit, and I certainly enjoyed all the visiting time with Aunt Virginia. Duncan practiced his commando crawl in those rare instances when he wasn’t being held by someone. He may not have gotten to eat any of the excellent food at the official reunion on Saturday, but he did spend the entire time charming various women there, most especially Warren’s cousin Joy who held him so much that a few people jokingly called him “Joy’s baby”.

Hongmei came with us, and I don’t know how we would have managed the trip without her help. Lugging two kids and two car seats through the airport was not easy even with three adults. I hope she also had a good time. There were three other people in the house who were fluent in Chinese, so I’m hoping that helped. She spent a fair amount of time talking to Mandy, my FIL’s “goddaughter” from Beijing. Mandy is just starting her freshman year at college, so I’m hoping that having someone close to her age with a similar background to talk made the trip a net plus for Hongmei.

The reunion happens every two years. I’m hoping we’ll go again next time. I’m thinking that once the kids hit their teens we may have to bribe them with a joint reunion/Disney World vacation for them to actually enjoy the trip, so we might as well take advantage of the days when chickens are a major draw while they last.
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