Monday, September 26, 2016

Three Family Reunions in Three Weeks

This summer, for the first time in years, the children and I flew out to visit our extended family. As part of our experience, we were able to attend three different family reunions in about three weeks. I thought the comparison of the three might be of interest to those planning a reunion themselves.

The Camping/Water Park Reunion
We drove to Downata Hot Springs in southeast Idaho (after flying into SLC). Idaho is a somewhat central location for my mom's side of the family. The family had reserved a group campsite for two nights. A few people drove up with a camper or RV. The rest of us slept in tents, except for my parents, who fit a queen-size mattress in the back of their pick-up. They're awesome like that.

The only planned activity for this reunion was the small waterpark at the resort (an extra fee). The waterpark consisted of a large pool with a couple slides and toddler pool, two big waterslides, and a splash pad for young children. Having such a small waterpark was perfect for a family reunion, because it was almost impossible to lose anyone. In fact, the line for the two big slides went along a chainlink fence that bordered the field for our group campsite. The family members who weren't interested in water time were able to socialize under the covered pavilion and wave to those going up to the slide.
The best thing (for me) about this reunion was watching my children play with my cousins' children. It seemed like the cousins became instant friends with anyone their age. They didn't even need an introduction.

The Destination Reunion
The second reunion was for my dad's side of the family. Instead of being centrally located, everyone flew or drove out to the Seattle area, where my parents live. A few people stayed in my parents' house. The rest stayed in local hotels. Everyone met at the house for dinner and socializing.
The biggest event was a scenic drive. I should note here that my children were the only children at this reunion. We stopped at beautiful Deception Pass, where some people bravely walked across the high bridge, then hiked down to a small beach. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Fort Casey, which is a decomissioned fort right on the water (Puget Sound). Then we drove onto a ferry, which took us across the water.

We made it back to the house in time for barbecue pork, which had been simmering in the slow cooker. After dinner, we all watched the memorial video for my nephew who passed away earlier this year.
The beauty of this reunion was the novelty of the area to all of my dad's family, which lives inland, around Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. The temperature of Seattle summers was a pleasant change for them, and the novelty of seeing the ocean, evergreen forests, and driving onto a ferry made it feel like a vacation for them. At least, I think it did.

The Backyard Reunion
The grand finale was a reunion held in a single afternoon and evening in the large backyard of my husband's parents' house.

With five sisters who all live within driving distance, it was expected that this would be an event, even if one of Cory's sisters wasn't an event planner by profession.
Everyone was told to bring a side dish, but hamburgers and a gourmet s'more bar were provided.

In addition to the pre-existing play set (recently repaired)  was:
  • A bubble station
  • Lawn Yahtzee 
  • Lawn Kerplunk
  • Crayons on the paper-covered tables
  • A frozen t-shirt contest
  • A fire, for marshmallow toasting
  • PiƱata for the children
  • Family history photo books 
  • A professional photographer
One photograph was taken of all the cousins together, lined up in age order (except for Little Q, who was held by a teenage cousin). One of the cousins had passed away ten years before, so my daughter held a purple helium balloon to represent her.

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