It turned out to be less of an omen and more of the foundation settling in. After reading of the miseries of family reunions on the same newspaper page as an article about cottage guests from hell, I steadied myself for an avalanche of relatives for the August long weekend. The elders who built the foundation were decisively not invited; hopefully they understand that I intended for the next generation of the family tree to anchor their roots. My siblings and their kids and my first cousins and their kids, all (22 of them) descended upon our cottage in the Land o’ Lakes region. The Saturday weather was summer-perfect and I was soon able to soften my stance and melt into a family gathering with hysterical fun. The warm hugs outnumbered the dirty looks, spontaneous laughter easily crushed any awkward moments of stilted conversations, and tearful memories of recent tragic family events dissolved into the gratification of what the “here and now” has to offer.
Oh yes, I know what you’re thinking: twelve bottles of wine later – who wouldn’t be gratified with the “here and now”? But wine time can all too easily turn into whine time which wasn’t the case. We learned of each other’s recent jobs – new and old and hopefuls, new challenges and undertakings, new homes, new high school and middle school grad celebrations and of course, the litany of aches and pains that are typical of nearing middle age (some of us anyway). Or are those aches and pains typical of being Latvian? More likely they are associated with those 12 bottles but I’ll leave that for my new Monday evening support group that I am bound to join sooner than later.
I read that four out of five people you survey will respond they’ve endured a miserable family reunion. I may be presumptuous as hostess but I hereby proclaim the First Annual Cousins Cottage Weekend a success. My aunt stated at a recent family gathering, that we, as immigrants, are always trying to be better than the best, top of the heap and pick of the crop. All our collective planning and communal cooler sharing, cooking and cleaning up ensured our gathering would be the one out of five surveyed that can say their family reunion was a triumph. It’s in our blood…
… along with a 0.08 blood alcohol count (mostly Amarone).