Obviously I failed at posting last Friday. I was at my family reunion and decided to just not sweat it. (I’m probably going to miss this Friday too, due to GeekyCon.) There were just too many fun things going on, and I usually only get to see my extended family every other year, so I didn’t want to miss out on any time with them.
We had a little bit of a smaller reunion this year, with thirty-some people, and we could have had almost twice that. But it always amazes me that we’re able to get any size group together, when everyone has so much going on in their lives, from surgeries to moving to taking the bar exam to other travel obligations (a few of the reasons some family members couldn’t come this year). We’re spread out across twelve states, two other countries, and a U.S. territory.
On Thursday, July 21, we (my parents, my sister, her boyfriend, and me) drove from Ohio to North Carolina, and we arrived at the hotel about 7:30 in the evening. A big group of Wilsons was hanging out in the lobby, mostly just talking, which we do a lot of when we’re together. We ordered pizza and shared it with some cousins who also hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and then spent the rest of the evening catching up with people.
Friday morning I learned how to play the card game Sushi Go, which is really fun and fast and requires a good deal of strategy. The little sashimi and maki rolls and whatnot on the cards are so adorable that it’s hard to be mad at them when they end up not counting for any points. It was especially fun to see my cousin Ben playing, because at eight years old, he is without a doubt the smartest child I’ve ever known (and I’ve known a lot of really smart children). The points in Sushi Go are pretty complicated, and Ben was able to not only count everything up correctly at the end of a hand, but he was able to keep track of good strategies while we played each hand.
Some of us went to Dave and Buster’s at a nearby mall for lunch, and we had a great time playing the arcade games with each other afterward. My mom has always been a skee-ball queen, and Ben is pretty good at it too. My dad often prefers to watch other people in a setting like that, but I got him to play a game of giant Connect Four with me, and he played a multi-person trivia game with some of us. The trivia game randomly selected a category for each question, and it picked sports at least a third of the time, which was the category any of us were least likely to get. If it wasn’t about baseball (or hockey for my cousin Megan), we were pretty much screwed. It was so obnoxious it got to be funny. When I was little and would go to Chuck E. Cheese, I remember only getting prizes every so often because they cost so many tickets to get something good that I would have to save up for a while. Dave and Buster’s was pretty good, though. I had enough virtual tickets (since you don’t get paper ones anymore; they just get stored via your game card on a central computer system) to get myself a Squirtle stuffed animal (my favorite Pokémon!) and combine the rest with some of Megan’s to get a lightsaber pen for Ben, who had gone back to the hotel earlier with his parents.
That afternoon some of us went swimming (the heat index was 110), and then we just hung out at the hotel and ordered in dinner. There was a little bit of Pokémon hunting going on, and some more Sushi Go, and of course a lot of talking. I had a great discussion about Cubs baseball, and I learned a lot about how Chinese word processing has changed over the years. I was working on knitting a Hufflepuff scarf for part of the time, and Ben became very interested in watching me. He took charge of my row counter, which helps me keep track of how many rows I’ve knitted in a particular section, and we had some really interesting conversations. He told me that he’d like to be in Gryffindor because Harry Potter is a role model for him, and when there was a commercial with Donald Trump in it on the TV in the lobby, Ben said, “I think deep inside Donald Trump is just a coward. He’s scared, and that’s why he’s such a bully.” I told Ben I thought he was right and I asked what he thought Trump was scared of, and he said, “Not having power.” Smartest eight-year-old I’ve ever known.
On Saturday I went with a bunch of people to lunch at the pub where my cousin Greg works. We parked on the beautiful campus of the University of North Carolina and walked past the building where my Great-Uncle Jim used to have an office in the math department. The food at the restaurant was really good (best egg salad I’ve ever had!), and it was super cheap! Nothing on the menu over $7.95. No wonder it’s been in business for decades in a college town. I sat with a bunch of cousins who are around my age, and we were very well behaved. The “real adults'” table, however, had some very raucous outbursts of laughter, and it was funny to watch Greg’s face behind the bar every time they exploded. After lunch we crammed five adult cousins into a hot, tiny car and ran errands to pick up a Cards Against Humanity expansion pack and some liquor. Because I don’t get to see my wonderful cousins very often, it always seems so weird to remember that none of us are kids anymore.
That evening, before dinner, my sister and I got the chance to talk to our Great-Uncle Jim and Great-Aunt Nell, who are the only living members of our grandparents’ generation. Uncle Jim has good days and bad days, but he often doesn’t know what’s going on anymore and gets frustrated that he has to use a wheel chair. Aunt Nell has children and grandchildren in the area who help her take care of Uncle Jim, but it’s still stressful for her, and she’s lost so much weight. I was so glad to get to talk to them, and Uncle Jim was in a good mood. I’m not sure he knew how my sister and I fit into the family tree, but he knew we were family, and he asked us about what we’re doing these days, and he seemed to follow along okay. I made a math joke, and he laughed. Aunt Nell told us about how she and Uncle Jim met, when she was a junior secretary at the college.
After dinner I spent some time with Ben working on the scarf (he so enjoyed manning my row counter that he had been reminding me all day that we needed to get back to the scarf, and he explained how the counter worked to some people at a point where I didn’t need it for a while). Then I went upstairs to play Cards Against Humanity with the older cousins. I think I might have come in second place at the end? In any case, I had way more black cards than I usually have when playing with my friends, which I think proves that my family has a superior sense of humor. Haha.
A lot of people left really early on Sunday morning, because they had super-long drives back to places like Florida and Wisconsin. I was able to say goodbye to a number of people during and after breakfast, though, and there were a few rounds of hugging goodbye and then standing there talking for another twenty minutes. (I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that’s pretty common in my family.) We finally hit the road about 11 AM and made it back to my parents’ house around 10 PM.
Our family reunion weekends always go by so quickly. It’s like you blink, and you’re back on the road again, heading home. The two years in between seem so long, but when we finally get together again, it’s like no time has passed at all (except that Ben has grown another six inches!). I hate saying the goodbyes, but it’s like my great-grammy always told her grandkids when they came to visit: If you don’t leave, you never get to come back!