August 17, 2020

From WTF guest list to time-stamped entry for the win

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 


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.  


Agnes, her mom, Alan, and another
nephew visiting my folks. 
Mary Ann did not come outside
 to tell them that they
could not park there, so sadly there
 were no fireworks.
*For reference here:  she has told
people not to park in front of her house
 in the past. 
I fear that between my Mary Ann stories
 and my family stories, you, my faithful
followers, will start to believe that
 I am indeed crazy as a loon
 and I only write this blog to
 fool part of the population.

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?


Busy Bee Suz said...

I love, love, love that you were able to have a celebration AND you are all-inclusive! Shenanigan family for the WIN!

Your brother with the weird invite/non he touched in the head?

I do not think YOU are the weird one, nope, you IS the NORMAL one. ;)
I have such a small family, this is never the case for us, so I can't really relate, but looking in from the outside, you guys are a gem.

You should tell Ann that one of your favorite past times IS NOT washing your hands for days on end. THE NERVE!

I have a feeling you gave Mary Ann some excitement this weekend with her watching from her window wondering if she should make a stink about your people parking near her home. *oh the humanity of it all!*

Kari said...

I love how you made it special also while making it safe. That is really cool. I am glad you had a good day and congratulations to the graduates. :)

Every time I think of Mary Ann, I think of that neighbor from Bewitched. What the hell was her name?? Gladys?? Looking out her window.....probably the most excitement she's had since February.

Kara said...

My oldest daughter and my oldest niece are both high school juniors this year. They've already decided they want to have a joint family party (we live in Arizona, the rest of the family lives in Massachusetts) either at my parents house or at my SIL's house on the beach. We'll have a small party in Arizona for friends, niece will have a party with her Dad's side, and then all of my family and my husband's family will get together for one big bash.

Ernie said...

Suz - My brother was working the whole thing around our folks - not how I roll. My yard is set up so that people can watch from the street, or from Mary Ann's front yard if the spirit moves you that way. I do think my brother just was NOT thinking and I might at some point say, by the way - that was crap, because I like to be open and honest with people. His wife, lovely girl, but if anyone is touched in the head . . . well, somewhere in my blog there is a link to her daughter's first communion party that we were uninvited to, sort of. I can't even remember anymore what the deal was, like if they have it at a restaurant then we couldn't come, no space? At any rate, super weird, but they ended up deciding to do it at the house so those of us with excess people could attend. What I'm saying - this is not the first time my family members have acted out. My kids are very mainstream and they are now able to look at the extended family and call a weirdo a weirdo, which is very life-giving for me. I am going to write a post about the difference between Kevin's family and mine -when I get around to it, so much going on that I have a list as long as my arm of posts I need to get written. And babysitting has begun. Yikes. Ann is a nut. Plain and simple. Her 25 yr old son was taking photos of her in my kitchen when they arrived. No one wearing mask but her. She was all "what are you doing?" Him: showing my friends the stock that I come from. Hee hee. Our very good friends were at our party and Mary Ann got out of her car and they were waving back and forth because they know her. I thought it was the wrong time to moon her, but the thought process was there. Our friends knowing her - another post . . . see what I mean? I could post all day long, if only people didn't need to eat and laundry piles didn't threaten to topple over and smother someone.

Kari - About a week ago I saw an article about how small family gatherings were helping spread the virus. OH crap. Hoping that is not a role we play in all of this. We really did pretty good keeping numbers low and we were outside as much as possible. I watched Bewtiched a handful of times when I was really little, but I vaguely remember the neighbor. When Lad backed into a car parked at the end of our driveway (and then drove away and didn't tell anyone, grrr) the police came. The next day Mary Ann was all 'What happened?' Then she proceeded to turn it into something that revolved around her: Oh yeah, you guys park at the end of our driveway sometimes and you really shouldn't do that. My parents have backed off my driveway into one of our cars before. No where in there was there a, 'Poor Lad, that sucks.' Because it did suck. He was a dumb ass for driving away like nothing happened.

Kara - How fun! That is my kind of cousin party - everyone on the same page, loads of fun, and planning it out in advance. So are you saying that you don't plan to tell some families that only one of their kids is invited without the parents? Because apparently that is the new trend. Ha!

Ally Bean said...

I don't remember any of my relatives ever celebrating anything with me in person. It was always a card in the mail. No one did the family party thing in my world. Interesting to read about how that works in today's Covid-19 world. We all grow up with, or in spite of, different experiences, don't we?

Ernie said...

Ally - I wonder, did you live out of state from relatives? And, yes so true. We had such small family gatherings, but my kids would never put small and family in the same sentence. Weird and family . . . well, those words might be joined on a regular basis. Ha!

Ally Bean said...

Yes, my family was small and scattered around the US. I didn't mind because when we got together for summer vacations it was a hoot, but as for getting together to mark milestones, that didn't happen. I never thought about before...

Beth Cotell said...

Your family is the worst! Okay, not really but how hard is it to include your family in the 8th grade celebration??? Also, Ann asking if you had washed your hands. You should get an award for not smacking her! :)

Ernie said...

Beth - You made my day. It is a bit of a mystery why they all discount me or gloss over me. Kind of par for the course, but I assure you I am not the evil sister they would have you believe that I am. I mean, I do speak my mind but since when is having an opinion equated with not worthy of being included?