Last weekend I attended a reunion of the Johnson side of my family. That would be my great-grandparents on my mother's maternal side and all their kids and their kids and their kids. This is the only family on either of our sides that still holds family reunions, and they do them approximately every 3 years. The last one I attended was in 1990, and seventeen years later seemed an appropriate amount of time to be skipping them. Also, Grandma is my last living grandparent, and her health seems to be getting worse all the time. I thought it was a good chance to see her for her birthday, stick around for the reunion, and then not be expected to be seen at one of these for a while.
Of course, the great-grandparents are dead. Great-grandfather came over on the boat from Sweden in the early 1900s, and great-grandmother had 11 kids in 12 years -- go figure she died young. Of the eleven kids in my Grandma's generation, only 5 are left. In my mom's generation, there were 75 cousins. Who knows how many they are in my generation. Here's a picture of those of us (just in my generation) that were at the reunion this year:
Even if you know me, good luck finding me in that pile of people. The vast majority of the families still live in Minnesota, with a few that have branched out to North Dakota, Wisconsin, or (gasp!) Iowa.
I give you this background, not because I think you will want to know it for some reason, but to give you an idea that this is a large family. And there are a lot of them I just don't know, since we haven't lived in the midwest in years and years and years. Of the tiny fraction of the family that came to the reunion (150 people), I knew a grand total of 14 of them, including my mom, dad, and little sister. And that's if I really stretch my memory back a long ways. All that family does is drink and play games, so that's what we did all weekend long. Yowsers. Well, I drank. If anyone offers me one more Windsor and water ("your grandma likes 'em, so you must, too"), I'll smack 'em. Oh, and quit acting like you're telling me some big secret when you point out my grandparents anniversary date and my mother's birthdate. Really? You think I didn't figure that out when I was ten? We played a trivia game, and my mother had submitted trivia about me, and I couldn't even figure out which statement was supposed to apply to me -- lotta help I was to my team.
Anyway, it's a special family, and they have some plusses somewhere (give me a second while I dig for them -- oh right, that's where I got my ability to hold my liquor). I just figure that if I wait another 17 years before I go to another one, all the members in my grandmother's generation will be dead, and they won't actually still be holding these things anymore. And that would be fine by me.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
3 months ago