I had all sorts of things to tell you - how my oldest son is now 17 (eek!), how my youngest son went on his first missions trip and rocked it, how we have lots and lots of kittens.....but it's pretty much all gone. The bare facts are still there, but details? Elaboration? I don't think so. The Hicks family reunion was this weekend, and it left my brain as vacant as the retirement village on bingo night.
I love our family reunion, I really do. My dad's family was big - 16 kids originally - and so there are a lot of us to reunite. Only three of Dad's sibs are still around, but there are a ton of cousins to carry on the tradition. We're scattered all over the country (although there is a heavy concentration in the Appalachians) and for most of us, the reunion is our once-a-year chance to catch up on each other's lives. For the past several years we've met at my parents' house for an afternoon of food, fun and fast talking, with Mom (and Dad, when he was alive) playing host.
This year things were a little different, though. Several of the cousins who usually come couldn't make it, for various reasons. Melinda (sister) couldn't be there, because she and Mark were busy moving into their new house. And Mom....Mom was in the hospital. (She's okay, thank God.) I cannot begin to tell you how weird that was for me.
See, I am generally very content to be the behind-the-scenes person at these events. I'll carry food, set up tables, whatever you need, but for heaven's sake don't ask me to be the "responsible party"! But since Mom and Melinda were both unavailable, it fell to me to play hostess....and let me tell you, filling my Mom's hostess shoes is one tall order!
Most of my relatives are killer cooks, and Mom is the queen of them all. Not only is she an incredible cook, she just plain loves cooking, and events like this offer her the perfect opportunity to cook like she's feeding the entire county. It doesn't matter that everyone brings food and there's always waaaaaaaaaaay more than enough; Mom still goes at it as if the whole clan is on the brink of starvation, and it's up to her to save us all. Plus she's a model of extreme hospitality - everyone loves to go to Nellie's!
For those of you who know me, you know that the "Betty Crocker gene" skipped me almost entirely. I'm a decent cook, but I really don't like cooking. My housekeeping skills are sketchy at best, so even though I love having people over, it's usually a bit stressful as I rush through the house trying to achieve an acceptable level of tidiness. With those facts in mind, you can imagine that I was a wee bit overwhelmed at the thought of playing Nellie for the family gathering!
Thankfully, Mom's "right hand woman", Sioux, had done all the heavy lifting for me. When the kids and I got to Mom's house it was spotless, the picnic pavilion was full of tables, and Dad's old workshop (where we set up the food tables) had been cleared and swept. The kids and I cleaned the picnic tables, did some arranging, and voila! Reunion-ready! Thank GOD for Sioux, because I would've been a nervous wreck trying to get everything done in the 48 hours I had before the clan started showing up, clamoring for food. As it was, everything went off without a hitch, and even though we missed our absent family members I think everyone had a good time. Afterwards I went to the hospital to give Mom the low-down and she didn't disown me, so I guess I did alright.
Next year, though? I'm turning the apron back over to Mom. Too much stress for this artsy-fartsy, non-domestic woman. When the family reunion revolves around knitting and lampworking, I'll be in my element...till then, I'll bring some goodies and move the tables around.