and how are we related??

Last weekend, I attended a family reunion and met more relatives that I never knew. Sounds bad, but in all fairness, I'm referring to non-blood relatives of my aunt-in-law. Still, you must show them same respect and familiarity as if you've known them all your life. It doesn't matter if you know more about your local postal worker than these people. Just go through the motions: kiss cheeks, give a 30 second synopsis of your life story and make fake plans to visit them. By then they'll be pushing you towards the food, relentlessly urging you to "Eat! Eat! You're too skinny! Eat!". I found out that 2 distant aunt-in laws live in my town. I already forgot their names but I have to remember to ask somebody about them. Too many faces to remember. Maybe name tags would help.

As expected, many members of my newfound family thought my wife and I were far younger than our actual ages. One lady couldn't believe we were married, "Ohh, I thought you were going to introduce her as your girlfriend, not your wife!" I didn't even mention that we've been married for 7 years (5 years for the religious types in the fam). I didn't want to see her eyes bug out and fall into her plate full of lechon.

Social grouping split along generational lines. We cheesed it up for the photographers as they called out, "Hoy! Second Generation..." We often found ourselves sitting amongst my younger cousins, who were busy chatting about their college experiences and the minutia of their free summers. Oh, to be young and carefree. Funny to see them drinking. Strange to see them with girlfriends - even though I was married when I was only a couple years older than their age.

Then there were the games. Supposedly its a tradition, but since I haven't attended one for a while, it was all new to me. The ringleader was an interesting woman - a white British lady who married my aunt-in-law's brother. She hushed the little ones and kept the older kids in order while explaining the rules. Her accent and stage presence reminded me of the friendlier Hogwart professors in those Harry Potter movies. I learned that she was a free spirited woman in her youth - traveled all around Europe, taught English in Japan for six months in '82 and made an excursion to the Philippines. She hopped around the various islands and met her future husband. She says the rest was history. History being their 3 kids.

Back to the games. A series of word puzzles was followed by a team game of fetch. Everyone was separated into 4 groups. Each group sent one representative to the head table where my aunt-in-law's sister-in-law informed them to fetch one item for her. First one to return with the item wins a point. Lots of racing back and forth. I almost shoved one of my unknown elderly relatives on the ground. Luckily, I caught her before the crash. Third event was a relay race which had teams passing pretzels via mouth-held raw spaghetti strands. Everyone opted out of the fourth game which was a relay involving holding a rubber ball under your chin and passing it to teammates neck to neck. I then quietly slipped away when I saw the lady bringing out an armful of board games. The kids played a charade type of game until everyone's stomach was growling for dinner.

I was fairly exhausted and stuffed with food, when my uncle cranked up the karaoke machine. I sang a couple lines of "New York, New York" and waited through a dozen songs before finally finding the moment to announce our departure. Everyone saluted my effort to make an appearance. I thanked my wife for surviving the day - which must be overwhelming to her. Overall, the reunion was enjoyable and exhausting. I drove away appreciating family ... and the little bit of distance that separates us.


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