As a teenager, I spent a whole lot of time watching my little (half) sisters. All of this together time meant I got to have lots of discussions with them. I'll never forget the one where I had to explain who everyone in our family actually was. A five year old doesn't really get the whole my mom, your mom thing. Yes, we're all brothers and sisters. No, we don't have the same mom. Yes, we have the same dad. No, my mom isn't your mom. She's not related to you in any way. Your mom is my step mom. And then we moved on to the grandparents. Over and over again we hashed it out. She just wanted to understand. At the time, I didn't realize that this conversation would be peanuts compared to the ones I'd have to have with my own children.
This past weekend was my dad's annual 4th of July party. Basically, his favorite day of the year. His Christmas in July. The day that all of his children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and various other relatives (including my mom, his ex-wife) gather at his house for some fun. Each and every year there are new people to meet. Every year new people are added to our family, sometimes by birth, sometimes by marriage, sometimes by more creative means.
All of the kids just jump in and play. They don't ask any questions except, "What is your name?" It's not until after the party, when we're in the car, that the questions come. "Who is so-and-so's parents?" "How is so-and-so related to us?" "Why haven't we met them before?"
Oh the questions. And the explaining. And the confusion. And the explaining. And the questions.
I always chuckle when I see families on reunion vacations with the T-shirts that read things like, "Mom," "Dad," "Oldest Sister." We couldn't do that for our family. We'd have to have ones that say things like, "Sister from first wife," or "Cousin that was given up for adoption and reunited 38 years later." Oh, the spectacle we'd be.
The good thing about all of this is, nothing shocks us anymore. People show up, and they are embraced into the fold. Well, as long as they can laugh and play cards they're embraced. Otherwise they are just tolerated:)
So, to the party. The frivolity. The laughing. The food. The family. (I'm only including photos of my immediate family, as I never asked the others about posting on the blog.)
There was the usual slip-n-slide in the backyard
and the baby pool out front. Although this year, Dad went all out and bought a bigger pool. Being that the temperature was about 98 degrees that day, someone was always in it.
Dad worked the grill
while everyone visited.
|one of my sisters with Cuckoo|
|Buttercup and a cousin|
The party was normal in that you never knew what surprise was coming up next.
On the agenda this year, an egg race conjured up by my step mom.
It took about five minutes to figure out the rules and the teams, and then to get the adults out of the way. Several eggs were broken before anyone even said, "Go!"
|One of my nieces, dropper of two eggs.|
But the race did eventually happen,
and everyone was a winner.
|Cuckoo ran over to show his great-grandma his trophy. He told her that the trophy read, "Don't drop your egg."|
The biggest surprise of all came when familiar music could be heard from down the street. The kids immediately dropped what they were doing and ran.
My dad managed to get the ice cream truck to make an appearance.
|one of my nephews|
OK, so some adults dropped what they were doing, too.
|Cuckoo had an uncle open his ice cream, then was horrified when it was almost eaten by that uncle.|
It was 98 degrees, and an ice cream truck pulled up. You know you would have ran, too.
|a niece being cleaned up by an almost niece|
After ice cream, the girls went inside for a little time at my sister's "spa".
Well, the girls and Cuckoo. He also got his nails painted, his eyes done up, and his belly inked.
|showing my mom his new pretty pink nails|
He especially enjoyed showing off the eyes.
Being that it was so hot (Did I mention it was 98 degrees?) not much official corn hole was played. However, a few unofficial tosses were made.
And lastly, a pause in our celebration of our country's birth to celebrate the birth of two growing boys.
Before the party began, some old photos were being circulated on Facebook. This one got quite a bit of attention.
The tall one is me with my growing-out mullet (I had requested a Dorothy Hamill, but very unfortunately got a mullet instead.) in my middle school track uniform. My brothers are on my right, and one of my sisters is on my hip.
My dad wanted another picture, taken in the exact same spot.
Here are the same people, in the exact same spot. We couldn't do the hair and clothes, but we reenacted it as best we could.
My how time flies.
Our family tree isn't a pretty little tree with the straight branches. Ours is more like a tree that has been struck by lightning. And where the tree split, little offshoot trees pop up and start their own little branches.. Some branches are gnawed off by a beaver. Some branches have been grafted with another tree to form a completely unique branch connected to the original.
And every 4th of July, that unconventional tree has a party. To celebrate our country, but more importantly, to celebrate the fact that the tree still stands. It has wounds, but it also has new growth. It has strong roots, and those roots can securely hold that tree through the storms to come.
And in another 25 years, we will be able to take another reenactment photo. Only next time, we'll have props. I have no doubt that by then my brother will once again be wearing high-waisted, pressed white shorts.
Have a lovley day!