Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Week of the Family Is Over

They've all gone home. All twelve of them. What a wonderful feeling it was to wake up this morning and realize I wouldn't have to drive across town to spend the day with my family. Don't get me wrong. I like my family. I was just a little tired of playing Julie the Cruise Director. I would say that most of my predictions came true. Fortunately there seemed to be no territorial feuds around the hot tub. There were heated discussions about baseball - "The American League is for girls!" There were clashes between the vegetarian and the carnivores -"Vegetarians just put all those vegetarian things in salads!" - mainly because Cousin #2 seems to thrive on conflict and my mother's buttons are so easy to push... (However, if Cousin #2 is going to devour a chicken breast like a starving lion downing a billy goat, then he has no room to criticize those of us who like to gnaw on flesh regularly.) I think there was a political discussion one night at dinner, but I was blissfully sitting at another table.

Things actually went pretty well this last week. Everybody enjoyed the Asheville Tourists baseball game on Tuesday night. Cousin #1 and I got in a nice hike one morning. Monkey got to play with her cousins and spend time with her grandparents. We took a train ride to the Nantahala Gorge. The men folk got in their annual game of golf, which in reality is only a contest between my brother and Cousin #3. The others mainly lose golf balls and come home injured.

My choices of restaurants were limited by the diverse tastes and requirements of the mob. There had to be vegetarian dishes. There had to be simple dishes as not to confuse the less adventuresome palates (difficult for me to do). There had to be beer. One choice initially seemed as if it would fail - there were no Anheuser-Busch products - but, my father came around and enjoyed his food and foreign beer. My father said, "I've never been anywhere in the United States where you couldn't get a Budweiser!" My thought, "You need to get out more often."

And so, it's over until next year. By the time it's time to plan the next family get-together, we will have forgotten how much spending a week with those you love can get on your nerves. Sometime around December or January someone will start asking where we should all go. We'll head off to a new destination. We'll ask the same questions. We'll tell the same stories. We'll have the same arguments. And then we'll give each other big hugs and return to our homes for another year.

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