The Good, Bad and Ugly of Family Reunions


Since Wise Hubby was a boy, he’s faithfully (and gleefully) attended his bi-annual family reunion. The older generation (originally comprised of his mom and her six siblings) and their children – and now their children and THEIR children – gather every two years for a week. The days and nights are full of softball games, Irish songs, impromptu musical performances, golf, swimming, Talent Night, card games, “inductions” of new family members, and other mischief/fun.

Whenever you spend time with extended family (up to 100 of them), there’s bound to be highs and lows. Having just returned from the latest family reunion, I decided to chronicle those pinnacles and valleys over the 20+ year I’ve been attending.

1988. Upstate New York. High AND Low: I’m forced to lie across three chairs and wiggle my body in my rendition of the American flag as the family sings “God Bless America,” a song sung at every Reunion. Embarrassing, to be sure, but in a good way because it means I was officially part of the family.

1990. Poconos. High: Finally knowing the words to the interactive songs sung every year. Low: Being drenched greeted by squirt-gun toting family members as soon as we step out of the car on the first day.

1992. Cape Cod. High: Diving contest where each person must imitate a pig while going off the diving board. Low: No large room that can accommodate the bunch of us, so we’re squeezed into the motel lobby each night for our nightly meeting. Hot, sweaty and claustrophobic!

1994. Berkshires. High: The first time we have a child to bring to the Reunion and pass along the family tradition. Low: Rustic, cold cabins with hard bunk beds; after the first night, we sent our two-year old to sleep with her grandparents at a nearby motel.

1996. Vermont: High: Going on a romantic canoe ride with Wise Hubby, the only time we spent together that Reunion as I chased two toddlers for most of the week. Low: Returning from the canoe ride to unhappy campers (literally) and realizing that we had not borrowed the resort’s canoe, but some poor people who happened to tie up at the same dock. (Of course, we crashed the canoe several times into the dock – all while the rightful owners were watching).

1998. Cape May, NJ. High: We’re the only guests at the lodge, so the kids can roam free, and no worries about disturbing other guests with our rowdiness. Low: We still managed to have the police called by local neighbors complaining about the noise at night.

2000. Cape May, NJ. High: Trip to the Jersey Shore during the day and dinner dance with extended family at night. Low: Watching stressed Wise Hubby as this was his year to plan the Reunion; it’s a lot of work to keep 100 people happy!

2002. Upstate New York. High: Watching my now older kids branch out and bond with a new batch of cousins. Low: Family owners of the resort put on their own singing/dancing entertainment every night, and don’t appreciate guests (us!) who are used to commandeering the stage. Hard feelings abound.

2004. Connecticut. High: We brought dress-up clothes from home and took our skit up to the next level with costumes. Low: Having to walk a mile up a steep hill for every meal and meeting.

2006. Poconos. High: Great new accommodations (2-bedroom suites with kitchens) at a family resort with every possible amenity. Low: Wise Hubby broke a few ribs while diving for a ball during one of the daily softball games. (I think this was the year …)

2008. Poconos. High AND Low: Spending my 20th wedding anniversary with 100 other family members. (The high was they put together a surprise “roast” of us.)

2010. Poconos. High: Last week I had three massages in five days at the resort. (I’m finally getting the hang of this Reunion thing.) Poignant Low: Missing Wise Hubby’s parents, both of whom have passed since the last Reunion.


  • Anne Says:
    8-25-2010 20:22:53

    I think this is hysterical. You are a trooper Elaine. I can’t get the image out of my head of you acting out the American Flag. This explains a lot…especially what goes on during our Labor Day reunions!

    Post a comment:
    Wonder why you have to provide your name and email to leave a comment? We did, too! It's a preventive measure so that automated robots don't inundate our blog with unwanted spam. As fellow Wise Women, we value your privacy. We will not sell/rent/divulge your contact information. Honest!

    When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
    George Washington Carver

    Subscribe to the Coffee Chat

    Join the conversation and savor your connection with other women ...
    Life happens when you share

    Subscribe via e-mail:

    RSS Subscribe via RSS