Sunday, August 03, 2008

Phend Reunion 2008 is now History

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sun shining, blue skies, low humidity, a nice breeze. I couldn't have asked for a nicer day on which to hold a family reunion. A really nice change from the previous few days of heat and humidity!

Attendance at the Phend Family Reunion this year was the lowest it has ever been with 24 adults and 9 children. However, there is an advantage to having fewer people attending - I got a chance to visit with each one of them! I have to admit though, it is a bit disappointing that more people don't come. However, I understand that there are a lot of other activities competing with a family gathering and that some people are reluctant to attend because "they don't know anyone."

The fact remains, no matter how many people show up, the amount of preparation is the same as is the overall cost. Announcements have to be mailed, rental fees paid on the facility, basic supplies (paper plates, cups, napkins, etc.) still have to be bought. I pay for those things out of pocket as the expense occurs then get reimbursed. There are two ways funds are generated - through a "White Elephant" Auction and also from "passing the hat" for contributions.

Items for the White Elephant Auction this year included several vases, a couple of books, a jacket, a hand-crocheted baby blanket, old grass-clipping shears, three decorative baskets, several shelf-sitting dolls, a glass bank, six candle holders, and a few other knick-knacks. To be honest, I wasn't very hopeful that they would generate much excitement. Several items brought in more than a few dollars but most went for one or two dollars. A couple of things were even given away. But it is a fun way to generate funds and prevents people from leaving immediately after eating! Given the small number of people in attendance it was a pleasant surprise to learn that all costs were covered this year through the auction and other contributions.

When I got home from the reunion I unloaded the car, put away what needed to be put away, sat down in my comfy chair, turned on the television, and immediately dropped off to sleep! Several hours later I woke up with stiff joints and the mother of all headaches. It took a while ;-) but I was finally able to stand up. I made it to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. Still a little stiff this morning but a hot shower loosened up the kinks and the headache is pretty much gone now. Guess I'm not used to being on my feet for nearly 8 hours straight. Plus the stress of making sure everything is ready, and wondering if anyone will show up!

It is doubtful that she will see this, but I want to acknowledge the help and support that my niece, Tami, provides before and during the reunion. She oversees the placement of food putting the hot stuff, salads, and deserts in their proper place. Keeps the lemonade pitcher filled up and the ice bucket full. She even helps with cleaning up afterwards! Thanks Tami.

Speaking of food, there was an awful lot of it considering there were only 33 people in attendance and a couple of them too young to eat anything. There were two kinds of meatloaf, three varieties of potato salad, two types of green bean casserole, a Reuben casserole, potatoes au gratin, fried chicken, several varieties of bean salad, cole slaw, apple salad, fruit salad. Deserts included lemon pie, brownies, zucchini-carrot cake, chocolate cake, pineapple upside-down cake, chocolate chip cookies. There was also a vegetable plate with dip and two cheese plates and crackers. No chips. That's a first! I didn't taste everything, but I what I did have was very good. I don't think anyone left hungry. If they did it was their own fault!

Each year I wonder if it is worth the effort it takes to have a reunion considering the time, energy and money expended. But as the people are leaving and they come up to me and thank me for doing this, then I know it is worth it. Two cousins travel every year from Cleveland, Ohio to be with us and to visit family and friends afterward. And two sisters, Julie and Marla, drove from Kalona, Iowa this year, just to attend the reunion. They left Iowa at 3:30 a.m. and arrived here about 11:30 a.m. Four and a half hours later, they were on their way back to Iowa! So, whenever I ask myself if it is worth it, the answer is a resounding Yes! Because I know that those who do attend, do appreciate it, and that certainly makes it worthwhile.

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