Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My love/hate relationship with the family reunion

Let's start this post off by doing something I've never done before, and add a picture!  This is the Oates section of the family, being the daughters, grandchildren, adopted grandchildren, future husband, significant other, and best friend in the whole world.  We consider the term 'family' loose, broad, and having almost nothing to do with, you know, actual blood relations.

So.  Our family reunion happens every Memorial Day at King City, CA, and we just finished celebrating it for the 26th time.  I have never missed a reunion.  It was started by my Grammy and Grandaddy and started quite small, but grew until we now have an average of 100 people that come at least a day, if not the whole weekend.  It starts slow on Friday night, kicks into gear Saturday, and the full blown celebration happens Sunday.  Monday is cleaning, packing, and saying goodbye for another year.  Food and beverages of all kinds (especially alcoholic kinds!) are in abundance, you can always find a deck of cards, there is park to wander through and a river to play in, and a group of guys even plays golf on Sunday afternoon.  It is, in short, a fun family filled weekend.  Because of the reunion I know my cousins--and my second and third cousins and all of the removed cousins as well.  I've met my family from Germany, and all across the US.  A one point I believe we had 6 generations represented, until my uncle died in his 90s as the last of his generation.  We talk, we eat, we  play, we have fun.  It is a good time.  I happen to love the vast majority of my relatives so seeing them at least once a year is a treat.  My sister of the heart and my best friend comes, and I just love being with them for a few days that spread out before us with nothing to do but together.  And relax.  And eat waaaaaay too much.

The highlight is Sunday night when we have a huge and yummy BBQ dinner and have the Milestone cake.  Birthdays, pregnancies, marriages, graduations, and if you hit a home run for the first time ever or got a gold star for perfect attendance in your Kindergarten class, we celebrate them all with enthusiasm.  And we mourn and honor those in our family who shook off that mortal coil in the previous year. It's a good, fun, uniting time.  

That's the LOVE.  

But there are things I hate about the reunion too.  First, there are just TOO Many people, which is funny because it is also one of the best things.  I can sometimes handle it because I have been to the reunion enough that my brain knows exactly what is going to be said to me and what I have to say in return.  It's a if this person says A, then I say A, B, C type of thing.  I may appear comfortable and verbal and calm and outgoing, but in reality my brain has simply processed the rhythm of the reunion so I fake it pretty well. Also, as I said, I genuinely LIKE my family.  But with so many people I sometimes feel hemmed in overwhelmed, and needing to escape.  For example, this year I spent some time with just a couple of people at the tent because I had to get away.  I'm used to it, and I can fake it, but DANG it exhausts me.  Just wipes me out.

Second, one of the ways in which my Aspie manifests itself is that I  just have a hard time letting things go. If I make a mistake or if something wrong happens, I get eaten with worry--not so much guilt, but worry--about it all weekend.  If someone says something that hurts me, I have a hard time relaxing around them.  If I am upset by someone, I have a hard time just ignoring it and letting it go.  I won't go into particulars as to the why in order to preserve someone else's anonymity, but this year I had a mini breakdown Sunday morning because I was just so very worried and angry about a situation it took over my brain the whole time. Thus, the reunion becomes for me an emotional roller coaster at times that shakes me up and doesn't stop.  

So. to sum up, though I love it every year and look forward to Friday night, by the time Monday comes I am glad it is over.  

No matter what, though I LOVE my family, I love my reunion, and no matter what you will see me there year after year.  It's just what we do.

1 comment: