Yesterday we hosted a grad party for Reg and Lad. We made it a combo deal and tossed another 8th grade cousin in there, so 3 birds/one party kind of thing.
8th grade, I know - hardly something to celebrate, but allow me to explain . . . when I was a kid we had family over for a cookout when one of us graduated 8th grade, along with a neighbor family. I never thought much of it. Considering that majority of my blood comes from Irish stock on both sides, it's hard to believe that I have a very small extended family. Retro family gatherings for me consisted of my 3 local cousins and a handful of aunts and uncles and grandparents.
Fast forward to current family parties: Coach and I practically need crowd control. We are each the middle of 5. We both have 2 older sisters and 2 younger brothers. (Weird, but he is the first born son in an Irish American family, so he didn't have the same middle child experience as me). My kids have 16 cousins from my side, and I think somewhere around 18 or 20 on Coach's side. With a few siblings out of state, parties are manageable.
Shortly after Father's Day, my brother, Mike, called me. Like an actual phone call, not a text. My heart skipped a beat because the family tends to communicate via text. I thought something was wrong.
Fortunately, he was just calling to let me know they were organizing a socially distant graduation celebration for his 8th grader, Alan the following Sunday.
Me: Oh, OK.
Mike: So we are trying to keep it small, because we want Mom and Dad to be able to attend. (My dad has leukemia. Immune compromised. My folks never leave their house except for doctor visits). Marie in Milwaukee isn't coming in for it. Ann (who is single and whose kids live with their dad) is coming. Pat is coming with his family (wife 'Aunt Leprechaun', plus four kids. Of course. My brothers are somewhat Siamese). And then from your family, we were thinking maybe just Reggie since he and Alan are such good buddies. I mean, maybe Curly because she is close in age to Agnes (his daughter), since we are trying to keep it small.
Me: Oh, gotcha. Um, . . . OK. Reg should be able to make it.
** Accepting applause here for managing to speak these words while my mouth sort of hung open in disbelief and my eyebrows were all angry and scrunched up, but it wasn't a Zoom call -thank goodness. I know there are several people in my family but there was very little chance all 8 of us would attend, so if you figure maybe 4 of us vs. the one that was being invited - would that additional 3 really have thrown the plan off kilter?**
Mike: OK, great. Yeah, it's short notice because the weather doesn't look too hot and we are thinking we can have tables spread out in the yard.
Me: Oh. OK. Yeah, I was just wondering on my walk this morning (true, NOT fake news) if we would ever get to have a grad party for Reg and Lad.
Mike: Oh yeah, Reg is graduating too.
Me: ** more internal, WTF-ing here because
YES, MY SON IS ALSO IN 8TH GRADE. **
Historically when my siblings and I have had cousins graduating the same year, we have done a joint party so our family is not stuck spending every other weekend at family grad parties. But, combining this small thing was not on Mike and his wife's radar. Incidentally, both her parents are deceased and she has one sister with two kids so not like they had a huge other side to include.
I hung up and laughed out loud. Coach paused the TV and grimaced, waiting for it . . . he agreed, bazaar, but we both chuckled at how hanging out with people who drink the same cool aid and who we don't really want to hang with was a bullet dodged.
I tried to give myself the pep talk that reminds me that I am treated this way, because they know I can handle it. A compliment, right?
Over the next few days when I described the 'Reg-only' invite to people, they were flabbergasted. The more I thought about it, the more I thought - yeah, really odd. I half wondered if Mike knows that Ann is still all undies-in-a-bunch at me because I didn't participate in the gift for our Dad's 80th b-day in May. Maybe he thought it would be too uncomfortable with me there? I kind of doubt that was the case.
The day before the party, Mike texted me to let me know they cancelled the party because of Covid concerns. Numbers were climbing in Illinois.
A month later, I suggested to Coach that we try a grad party. We would be in KC visiting his sister one weekend, the next we would be in Michigan in a rented house, so that left August 15th weekend - the last weekend before Ed returned to college. Coach was onboard.
I texted Mike, and Marie in Milwaukee, whose daughter graduated college in May.
My text: Planning to celebrate Lad and Reg graduations Aug 15th. Hoping for good weather, but will be fine if people come in the house if need be. Will spread out tables, and will have time-stamped entry: my side come for a set time, and Coach's side come later in the day. Let me know if you'd like to celebrate your grad at the same time. Mom and Dad can pull up at the edge of the yard (we're on the corner) and sit in their car and watch kids play volleyball and people can come and say hi, boy-in-the-bubble style.
**We did Jimmy John's, individual bags of chips, cups of fruit that I cut up, pumpkin break, and my cookies - served with tongs, and a Costco cake. Hand sanitizer bottles were sitting everywhere. Yes, when Ann got here early and I was still cutting the fruit she asked me if I washed my hands first and I promptly told her that I did, but then I licked my hands and picked my nose a few times. It never ends.**
Marie said thanks, but no (Milwaukee is less than an hour and a half away), she needed to study (for series 7 or something, no idea. Out of the loop there) and a mass was being said that weekend for her MIL who passed away in March.
Mike said they were in. I told them to feel free to invite his sister in law's family, but she was going to be out of town anyway.
Turns out being inclusive is NOT hard.
Party was yesterday. Boy-in-the-bubble visited. Got a Jimmy John's sandwich - something he's never eaten. Grand-kids and grown kids visited briefly at the car window that was cracked.
There were about 12-15 people in each of the two rounds. We chuckled when Ann's son showed up for the later part, and became an honorary member of Coach's side. Ann will be livid when she learns of this. Turns out the pandemic has not impacted her controlling personality.
It should come as no surprise that I was all strategerie when I invited my side to come from 12 - 3, and Coach's side to come after 3. Intentionally left the fun crowd for the 2nd round so we could kick back and relax and laugh, which we did . . . after his folks left.
It poured rain around 5:00, and people came inside. The worst part of the rain? His folks didn't leave as quickly as they would've - they no like driving in 'weather' - which delayed the fun-times a tad.
Delayed laughs are better than no laughs.
Anyone with a family as weird as mine?