Enough time has elapsed such that a proper perspective can now be rendered upon Mark’s family reunion held at Myrtle Beach, SC earlier this summer. With all the excitement/drama of seeing everyone, spending a week at the beach and having his dad pay for it all, it would have been too easy to put up a post that lacked the introspection required when discussing family… especially when it’s a large family. The whole affair is probably worthy of more than one post, so let’s start with this and see where we go from here…
It may help put this in perspective to note that there were 41 people at this reunion. That’s just Mark’s immediate family – siblings, parents and the grandkids. One uncle joined us as well. This is a family that has seemingly taken it upon themselves to populate the world.
While loaded with opportunities for drama, self pity, braggadocio and general obnoxiousness, the reunion was actually really a lot of fun. The adults generally acted like adults and the kids were all excited to see each other. The generational behavior regressed to the level of a mid-teen male juvenile delinquent during the daily trips to the fireworks store (real fireworks, not the “Safe & Sane” variety) when the inner pyromaniac in all of us came out but it was for a good cause as we had nightly entertainment on the beach.
It is interesting to reflect upon how the group has changed over the past eight years since the last reunion which was also held at Myrtle Beach. Many milestones have come to pass in the time between reunions: three weddings (hey, that’s us!) including the first of the grandkids to get married; three grandkids and two great-grandkids have joined the family; age-related illness has begun to take hold of Mark’s mom; and the oldest grandkids who last time had talked about high school and/or drivers licenses were now talking about college courses and life on their own.
Age in general was more readily apparent this time versus the last time. In between visits to Myrtle Beach four of Mark’s siblings turned 50 and the other four turned 40. The impetus for the reunion was to celebrate Dad/Grandpa turning 80. The family in toto can be described most charitably as solidly middle-aged and that’s only if you believe fifty is the new forty. Everyone is now more acutely focused on retirement and when/if that might become a reality.
Seemingly in remission were sibling rivalries. Seriously. Maybe it’s because we’re all older, maybe we’re all just tired of it, or maybe it’s because we’re all more focused on our families rather than on each other but there was considerably less “edginess” to the week. Not to say that all self-serving behaviors were left at home but for the most part we treated each other like we would treat our friends, forgetting for a while that we are in fact family.
The grandparents had it right and focused on enjoying themselves and the company of their multigenerational offspring. They had the best time of all. And maybe that was the unspoken take-away of the week: enjoy the time that you have, the place that you are and the company that you are with. Even if you’re with family. Those old folks are pretty smart.