• 82°

Relatively speaking

There are some things you will never hear at any family reunion. They include:

“I am sure freezing! Why do we have these things in the winter?”

“We don’t have any fried chicken or barbecue this year. We’re going vegetarian!”

“I know every single person here and can explain to you how they are related to me.”

If you haven’t deduced by now, my family recently held a reunion. It was my mother’s side of the family and while my great-grandparents have died, all their children (most of whom are now in their 80s) and the rest of the descendents gather once a year in North Alabama. As my mother will tell you, I don’t attend every year. I do attend enough to make my mom and grandmother happy, or at least happy enough not to bug me too much.

It’s not that I don’t like family reunions. I do. It just appears that after the family tree has sprung so many branches it become impossible to keep track of who belongs to whom and how they are related to you in the first place.

Case in point – Greg ran into someone he knows at my family reunion. I did not know them other than recognizing their name and doubted, outside the confines of a reunion, I would have realized we’re related. After he and this man made the connection, I asked my mom to explain who he was.

“You know you’re great Aunt So and So? She had three kids. Mr. So and So is her second daughter’s grandson.”

Oh. So let me see if I got this. This person, Mr. So and So, is the great-grandson of my great-aunt? This makes him my mom’s first cousin twice removed, I believe. This would make him my third cousin I think. Either that or he’s not related to me at all.

To their credit, my family is trying to solve this problem. One of my great-aunts has created a nametag system that identifies who you are and, basically, why you’re there. For example, my tag said “Leada” and, underneath, “Louise’s granddaughter.” This is fine if you know Louise is one of the original family members on which this reunion is based. If you don’t, you probably don’t belong there anyway.

Which brings up the point… The same great aunt that came up with the nametags also puts ribbons on the signposts near her home so we can find it easily. The problem this time was someone else did the same thing and even had signs pointing to the “King family reunion.”

“We should just go there,” Greg said. “I doubt anyone would know we weren’t related to them.”

“You’re right,” I said. “I would just tell them I’m the first cousin’s third niece twice removed.”