Monday, September 5, 2016

(Someone Else's) Family Reunion

Family trees aren't as straightforward as they used to be. At the Oldenburger family reunion this weekend, I met a lot of Audrey's aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and more.

Over the better part of a century since Jakob and Fenje Oldenburger founded the clan back in Holland, their children and children's children have experienced miraculous births, tragic deaths, marriages, divorces, remarriages, adoptions and all other manner of associations and affiliations.

A young man of 21 is asked if that 5 year old he is talking sternly to is his younger brother. "No, he's my nephew," is the reply. "He lives with us because his mom is...troubled." A knowing nod, indicating both understanding and respect, is given to show that the matter needs no further elaboration.

So many different people, so many branches of the same family tree, and sometimes it is difficult to even fathom that they share a common trunk. And sometimes they don't; I have no blood here except the daughter I brought.

And yet, I see similarities in the eyes of some of the cousins, the smiles of some of the aunts, mannerisms and expressions of children brought up around similar lifestyles and cousins, whatever age they may be now.

Best of all, they make room for others, like myself. This year they asked me to run the auction they use to fund the reunion, and two hours of sweaty shouting later, they had somehow made about $500 more than they did last year.

But our biggest contribution for the past three years has been the games we bring, and for a lot of the younger attendees who are just not into canasta, the reunion is a great opportunity to try games they haven't been exposed to before.

This year saw three games of Formula De, including a 9 person heat using the megaboard of two adjoining tracks. We also played Risk Godstorm, Timelines, Bang! The Dice Game, and Dutch Blitz. Uncles, cousins, nephews, brothers-in-law, and friends.

After packing up Frankentrailer today, these people whom I only see once a year hugged me, and thanked me for my help, and said how glad they are that we come. And I'm glad too.

Because it turns out they are my family after all.

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