Monday, September 7, 2009

CFR 2K9

This is a story. I met Mrs Candid in May. We became serious rather quickly, attending one another's family functions and so forth within weeks. Her mother's family gets together the first Sunday of each month for dinner. They also have a family reunion every year over Labor Day weekend. July and August of that first year it seemed to me that was all they talked about. By the time the reunion came around we had only been dating for just over 3 months, I didn't feel very comfortable yet even at the monthly dinner, and was quite intimidated by the thought of attending this reunion, so I didn't go. You would have thought I'd done something truly horrendous, like murdered the family dog.

I cannot express in writ what a big deal this weekend is. Family members who may as well be complete strangers the rest of the year all converge on this summer cow pasture in south west Wyoming, just like they have done for some 20 years. The trailers, tents, and tables are always in the same places; the meals are always the same; the activities don't change by any significant degree. Violation of any of these traditions is not taken lightly, punished by all but disowning the perpetrator. Like Christmas, the moment it ends the countdown to next year begins. This event is not to be taken lightly!

Fortunately I somehow managed to earn forgiveness for my truancy, and we were married the subsequent March. Leading up to the next reunion though I still had some misgivings.A candid conversation with my father-in-law one evening eased my concerns a great deal, and I went into my Labor Day adventure with only a little apprehension left. Still though, I couldn't understand why it was such a big deal to camp for a few days in an old cow pasture.

Then I got there.

A little background now. The reunion happens in a field that a great uncle leases for his cows, adjacent to the old family home and property built and developed under the homestead act around the turn of the century by Great Grandpa. It was lost in the early 30's due to financial troubles. It is also less than 15 miles from a youth camp where my family used to do reunions and many of my fondest childhood memories were made. In fact, it feels almost like it was more than a coincidence that we went somewhere so close.

I cannot express in writ how great this weekend is. My first experience was indeed overwhelming, but at the same time fantastic. I learned the history, went with Mogli on a few bear hunts, threw rocks in the river, and just relaxed. This year was even better. I was working up there anyhow, so I got there quite early, one of the first to arrive. I went with Grandpa and Grandma to a dinner where I saw an old friend who lives up that way. I even got a special historic tour of the region. The weekend passed quite quickly, but we found time to go to a nearby lake where my family always went when we were up there, but hers didn't even know about. I found a three point white tail shed. Stayed up to all hours of the morning and played my first ever complete game of Phase 10 (I've previously never made it passed Phase 5 before people got bored). Caught frogs and chased squirrels with Mogli and a couple cousins. Made a little ground figuring out who everyone is (I have no hope of ever really getting it straight). And of course went on a few bear hunts and threw LOTS of rocks in the river!

As I was packing things up to head home I was making a list of what to bring next year, and yes, beginning to count the days until next year.

I still don't, and likely never will, fully comprehend what makes this reunion such an extraordinary ordeal to the In-Law family, but I will say that I look forward to it almost as much as they do.

Almost.