The Vasey Reunion: Here Come the 6'5" Blond-child wielding Wyomingites

Next: A short story, based on one of my all-time favorite children's books (and true events from the life of this family I happen to know).  If you haven't read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, check out the video at the bottom of this post, or go buy a copy now!
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It was the summer of the year when the relatives came.  They came up from Wyoming, and South Dakota, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  They came over from Oregon and Idaho too.  They left when the kids were almost old enough to be tired of such things as family reunions, but not quite.

 They traveled all day on Monday and almost into the night. And when they arrived at Palmer Gulch where the relatives were, they tumbled out of their minivans and SUVs and fell into the arms of their Aunt Robin and Uncle Jeff and their cousins Matthew and Ashton, Abby and Dillon.  They promised never to get into another car so long as they lived.

Then it was hugging time.  Oh those relatives!  You had to go through one big Uncle Ralph hug, two Cali hugs, and a Christie high-five before you could get from the porch to the fire pit.

The relatives stayed in cabins and cooked dinner together every night over a tiny stove and an oven that would burn the chicken.  But they didn't mind.  They were too busy talking and laughing and hugging and trying to make baby Olivia giggle. 

The relatives hardly took time to unpack.  They climbed all over Mount Rushmore in the hot sun and made the tourists wonder where had these giants come from, just how many blonde children did they bring with them, and why were they all wearing red t-shirts?

The swimming pool was too cold, so the relatives packed up their sodas and turkey sandwiches and went to Silvan Lake instead.  The most ambitious cousins followed Mike, Dan and John far out into the water and around the big rock, while the others stayed behind to watch Cole and Addy and Olivia make rivers in the sand.

There wasn't a sport that these relatives couldn't play.  The basketball game seemed to go on for hours; which could be attributed to the family's strong spirit of competition and a certain stubbornness.  Everyone cheered as little Landon got a good shot at the wiffleball.  And the winner of the epic game would be debated for years to come.

At night the relatives spent some time reminding each other about the old days.  They could remember times when Grandma Vera would cook great big dinners for her four boys and Grandpa George.  Jenny and Lisa count recount, again, the tales of Johnny Free Porker and the talent shows of years past.  The younger ones wondered how life must have been growing up in Wyoming with no internet and phones that couldn't even take pictures.  The older ones listened to stories they had heard before but loved to hear again.  And when Grandpa Dick couldn't remember, cousin JoAnn helped to fill in the historical accounts with as much accuracy and as little fiction as they could manage.

After they had eaten up all their pancakes and drank up all their soda and beer and River Ritas, it was time to go.  So they packed up their bathing suits and volleyballs and loaded their tired children into their carseats.  Ryan and Anna started planning their weeks ahead with the grandparents in Oklahoma, and Hannah tried not to cry as little Jakey came up and hugged her tightly around the leg and said bye-bye to Olivia.  They all agreed that two years was far too long to wait until the next reunion.  But they resolved to spend the time preparing their talents and honing their wiffleball skills.  

As they drove away, they thought about their homes back in Oregon and Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.  They wondered if their friends had missed them and if their gardens had been watered.  But they thought about the relatives too, missing them.  And they recalled the lists they had made on the last night; of the peak of the trip and the pit.  But the peaks far outnumbered the pits, which mostly consisted of a few bedbugs and general agreement that they missed the relatives that couldn't come out this summer.  The next reunion would be even bigger and better.  And they could hardly wait.