My Mom is the ninth of nine children. Yep, my grandparents (who are two of my most favorite people ever), had nine babies, eight of which were raised “down on the farm.”
Those eight kids grew up, got married and had families of their own and scattered between here, Georgia and Alabama. Our family never went far. We lived right down the dirt road, (or across a hayfield) from my grandparents. For that, I will forever be grateful. I don’t have many childhood memories that don’t include my Papa & Granny. There is nothing like good grandparents, and let me tell you, they were the best. They weren’t the kind of grandparents that bought you things, or let you get away with everything… they just LOVED us and we knew it. ALL of us. We were just the ones lucky enough to get to live so close.
Every October, for the past 12 years, everyone comes “home” to Papa & Granny’s house for our annual family reunion. When I say everyone, I mean the whole crew (or at least as many as can come that year!). It’s quite a bunch! My brother, Beau, and I have 22 FIRST cousins!
Friday is the day everyone arrives! Some come early, some come later…
This year, some of my Georgia cousins and their families came early, so AB had some cousins to play with on Friday while we were doing last minute setting up/grocery shopping!
The kids loved the corn we put out for them to play in this year. We had those kids set up, ;et me tell you! They had an old trough full of corn, benches and tables to “work” on, and AB’s Makin’ Mud Pie table! They played and played and played… So fun!
We always have a big fish fry on Friday night to get the weekend started. The guys get the fish, clean them, and fry them up. Fried fish and shrimp is served up beside hush puppies, grits, and of course, a family fave, “swamp cabbage”!
That swamp cabbage was cooked with about 5 lbs of bacon. Oh my.
On Saturday, we’ve been known to do things a little differently each year. We used to have a big breakfast, but this year, decided to meet around 10:00 and have some family pictures taken. Every one wore black and denim and the pictures turned out really good.
Here’s the group shot… we were missing TEN of my cousins, and their families, so with all of them, we would have had about another 30+ people! It’s not an exaggeration when I say I come from a BIG family! :)
We’ve not had pictures taken like this since my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary back in the 90’s! I wish we had thought of doing it from the beginning of our reunions. I think it would be so neat to have a big group photo from each year to look back on. Maybe we’ll start that tradition this year! :)
We almost always have a “theme” for the weekend, too. Our decorations, games and even food is usually planned around that theme. Over the years, we’ve had some pretty fun themes!
In the reunion’s beginning years, we always had a big volleyball tournament (because friendly competition is always a good thing, right?) as our “Battle of the States”--- whichever state (Florida, Alabama, or Georgia) won the tournament, got the beloved stuffed turtle shell as their trophy! Yall, this thing is hilarious, and it was REAL at one time. Has anyone ever seen these before? It was a real gopher shell and then it had little fabric legs and a neck sown in. On the neck, were button eyes. My Granny had like 3 or 4 of these things when I was a kid. They used to creep me out a little, but there was this one that had gold button eyes and he was my favorite. Ha.
Anyway, I don’t know how we got started using one for the trophy, but we did, and that turtle has traveled many miles! Every year, when he comes back to the reunion he’s usually decked out in that state’s team colors. I’m proud to say when Florida had him once, he had a tiny Gator helmet that he so proudly wore and there’s also Gator stickers on his shell from the year of Florida’s reign! :) If you squint you can see the gator tattoos…
Since everyone has gotten older and it’s usually so blazing hot, we stopped the volleyball a couple years ago. Last year, our “Quincey Idol” (American*Idol) contest was our battle of the states.
This year’s battle was “Minute to Win It”. It’s a game show on NBC or CBS, I think… My parents watched it this summer and knew it would be the perfect thing to re-create at our reunion. And it was! We had 10 challenges that each state chose a representative for and they had 60 seconds to try to complete them. They were hilarious, too. The funniest, I think was the Elephant Head one… the person had to put a pair of pantyhose on their head and in the toe was a baseball. They had to knock over 8 coke bottles (We used Sam’s Choice for this, because doing something so careless to an actual Coca-Cola would be sacreligious, right?) using just their head to move their “trunk”… they couldn’t use their hands and they only had 60 seconds to do it. Some other challenges, were, “Bucket Head” (where you had to catch a ping pong ball in a bucket strapped to your head), “Noodling Around” (using only your mouth and a piece of spaghetti, you had to get 6 pieces of Penne pasta on the noodle), “Face the Cookie” (using only your face muscles, get a cookie into your mouth)… I don’t remember the names of the others, but for one, you had to get a ping pong ball in 3 small glasses standing 5, 6, & 7 feet away from them, using a measuring tape! Another was to be blindfolded and put a lampshade on your head using a fishing rod.
The challenges were all hilarious and we all had the best time cheering for our “States”!
It’s a hoot when you get that much family together. In a crew that size, you have SO MANY different personalities and it can get interesting! ha… One thing’s for sure, we can all play and have a good time together. The older I get the more I see that we all have “issues” (according to one of my cousins…ha), but we learn to deal with them and just enjoy being together. That’s what family is…that’s what relationships are. They take work, they take having fun together and making memories to last. That’s what I think we do at our reunions.
Saturday night, we grilled hamburgers and then had “movie night”… we’d taken old reunion videos and converted them to DVD, and then used a projector to blow them up really big under Granny’s carport. Everyone sat on her porch benches (which my Papa built many years ago…so sweet) and stood around reminiscing from our first reunions. The very first year (12 years ago), we had “interviews” and everyone introduced their families and said what they thought about the first reunion.
My Papa was still alive for the first few, and so he and Granny were on the “interview tape”, and I felt that lump in my throat when he talked about the kids he’d raised right there on his piece of land and how God had blessed his family over the years.
My Grandparents weren’t perfect, but they loved the Lord, and they raised their children in a Christian home. They served God and they taught their children to do the same. They saw more share of heartache and hurt than most, but when it was all said and done, they still praised God, because they knew HE was the only thing that brought them through it. I am so thankful for the heritage I have in them, and so blessed to be a part of the Clyde & Peggy Quincey family! :)