Thursday, August 16, 2012
I spent the weekend learning why I am the way I am. It could not have been a greater voyage of self-discovery than had I been through years of therapy (although many still strongly recommend the therapy thing). To really find out what makes a person tick, you see, there’s nothing like a family reunion.
The McKerracher Luau is held annually to avoid letting our familial bonds become relegated to posts on Facebook. With Mom and Dad having eight children (I’m the youngest and best looking which explains why I’m Mom’s favourite) it would be very easy to let our geographic and social circle differences allow us all to drift apart. The reunion, like reunions held by many other families, is a reminder that we are all important to each other. The warm embrace of a loving family member beats someone typing (((HUG))) hands down. All together there were 46 of us freed from Facebook and enjoying real-time relationships. My mom was in her glory.
Facebook family contact isn’t all bad, of course. It’s far easier to ignore our weirder relatives on social media sites than at the camping sites where we stayed. In our family, the weird ones are identified by being quiet, well mannered and never interrupting someone else’s interruption; which is how conversation is transacted at our soirees by the normal ones. Once again we are reminded “normal” is a relative term… other than when discussing my relatives.
Part of the festivities, besides the obligatory golf tournament and chili cook-off to feed the hoards of hungry kin that makes swarms of locusts look like picky eaters, is the talent portion of the evening. To use the word “talent” to describe most of the skits, poems and songs would be a reach worthy of Stretch Armstrong. It doesn’t matter. Although the golfing and chili events are designed to be somewhat competitive, (the winner gets the coveted Dollarama trophy cup) the talent portion is not. It is, in fact, the least judgmental part of the evening. The real judging doesn’t happen until the evening’s official agenda is complete and the party divides into two groups; the drinkers and the eaters. We then make fun of whatever group we are not a part of.
For entertainment this year, we had a song from my brother, Kerry, who sings like a bird (crows are birds). He did a ditty called “In the Yugo”, a spoof on the old Presley tune; “In the Ghetto”. (There are not any new Presley tunes on the horizon, I suppose.) Kerry is three years older than me and now has a goatee, moustache and glasses that resemble mine so much, people were getting us mixed up. At one point we decided it would be a hoot to exchange clothing and try and act like each other for a gag. Eventually, the thought of wearing each other’s sweat saturated clothing produced a whole different gag and the whole thing was called off. Because I love my brother as much as I do, there will be no critique of his song, however.
My sister Kathy, the family’s “academia nut” with the fancy-schmancy letters after her name, let her hair down and acted out a Mickey Mouse story for the wee ones. Although the yard-apes were enthralled, the rest of us were concerned we’d be raided by the Disney Police, who take their copyright protections more seriously than the Olympic Games branding Nazis. So far her infringement has gone un-noticed and she will be okay if everybody just shuts up about it.
My brother, Ian had an “act” where he did a spoken, powerfully emotion filled recitation of Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Sounds of Silence”. Given Ian’s singing talent, speaking the words, it was generally agreed, was a great decision. Instead of clapping, when he was done, we all donned berets and said “Cool, Daddio… we can really dig it!”
My own powerfully emotion-filled poetic recitation was Laura Richard’s epic poem, “Eletelephony”. Unlike when I was in Grade Six, reciting “The Spires of Oxford” during a Remembrance Day ceremony and had a brain fart halfway through, at least I remembered all the words. Given the amount of tequila accidently spilled into the handy little shot glasses, (approximately two litres worth was over the weekend) that, in of its self, was remarkable.
As usual, the performing ends with my niece, the lovely and truly talented Kristy, who is a professional children’s entertainer. This is ideal for our crowd whose mental age fits perfectly with her target demographic. When Kristy picked up her guitar after an incredibly clever interactive white-board skit, she favoured us with a song. As Kristy’s powerful voice filled the room with joyful noise, the audience was instantly captivated by the sweetest sight you could imagine. Little Maxx, all of maybe three years old, and his twelfth cousin, eighteen times removed (I’m not really sure how all that stuff works) tiny Alyssa, a few months older than Maxx, began dancing together with no encouragement from anyone. Then hand in hand they went up on stage and demanded to be heard… and they were. Their version of the Alphabet Song was so endearing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Ultimately, though, it wouldn’t matter what you do at a family reunion. The important thing about familial events is who you’re spending time with. The fact that you are all together is the only imperative. Observing family members interacting together, tells us a lot about ourselves.
At the Sunday morning pancake breakfast prepared by Bob and Kathy, Ida, the family matriarch was beaming.
“My friends ask me what it’s like to have eight children,” she told me when we were chatting. “I tell them I wish I’d had at least six more.”
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