Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Brower Bash

Ken with his parents and sibs.
From bottom - up, L to R: Judy, Janet, Ken, Kevin, Keith, Bob and Jane

Pops and Nana with the 9 grandkids who were present. 4 grandkids (one with a spouse!) and 1 great grandchild were not able to attend.

The whole bunch - as Matthew called it, "Browerpalooza!"

The Outer Banks are near to my heart. If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you know that I’ve written about the Outer Banks before, focusing on how wonderful it was for us to “host” family and friends at a rented beach house. [To read this posting, please go to "Hosting Away from Home," from August 15, 2009.]

I still contend hosting away from home is one of the best ways to entertain, as there is none of the fussing I do to get our own house ready for company!
We have such fond memories of all the times we’ve been to the Outer Banks and I highly recommend the area as a fun place to host a gathering with family or friends. We’ve rented beach houses there a number of times and had wonderful family vacations in various places along the narrow strip of land that spans miles and miles.

One year we took our boys (our son and his close friends from high school) the summer before they started High School. Four 14 year-olds! My cousin Lynn and her late husband, Rickey, along with their two children, joined us at a different time one year for a couple of days. And most recently, we hosted my husband’s extended family. Now that they’ve experienced it, too, our extended family also have an affinity for this wonderful area off the coast of North Carolina!

But, I suppose I am getting a little ahead of myself. To understand why it was such a special reunion with Ken’s family, I need to share a little history….

My husband is one of five kids. None of the five live close to each other. Kenny’s sister, Judy, lives in North Carolina and is close to where his parents live. His other siblings are also scattered far from us and this part of the country; Janet lives in St. Louis, Keith lives in Cincinnati and Kevin lives in Germany. Add grown grandkids to the mix and we dot the map in a much larger areas still.

Because of this ‘scattering’ it had been 14 years since all the siblings had been together. You read that right – 14 years! During that decade and a half, there were various get-togethers, but someone was always missing due to military deployment, pregnancy, illness or work commitments. It just seemed impossible to get everyone together as a family.

So early this summer, when our son, Matthew, learned that Kevin and his family were coming to the States for a visit, he decided we should all try to get the entire family together. Since Matthew was only 6 the last time we had all been together, he had not have the privilege of seeing – as an adult - his dad together with all his brothers and sisters. As an only child, I think he really longed for that connection to family - he wanted to get to know his aunts, uncles and cousins better and that he did!

The first part of the week we enjoyed our time at the beach house with our little family of three. Then on Thursday, the rest of the tribe joined us at the Outer Banks for a weekend Matthew called “Browerpalooza!” There were 20 of us present and it was amazing! A few were unable to attend (again, due to deployment and other things), but at least all the brothers and sisters were together along with their parents. That was the goal!

So, we visited and had an enjoyable 3 days together. We talked and ate and reminisced. Then we swam in the pool and at the beach and cooked and ate some more. It was a wonderful time to get together and a wonderful place to do it. The visit also provided us the opportunity to get to know Kevin’s family, whom we (Ken, Matthew and I) had not met. What a joy it was to meet Patty and their little boy, Ian!

As you know, hospitality is my thing. Imagine my joy to learn that Patty shares my love of entertaining and hospitality! She and Kevin cooked a delicious German meal for us and we ate as a family – a great, big family! As ‘only kids’, Matthew and I loved it! And so did everyone else. It was a real treat and a real blessing to all of us.

So, are we going to do it again? Kevin and Patty, who are moving to Florida later this year, have offered to host the next reunion. We are looking to reconvene in two years in the fall of 2012. I wonder if Disney World and Mickey Mouse are ready for Browerpalooza!


Anonymous said...

How awesome for you all to be together!!!

Vanessa said...

Thank you, Gloria! It was a truly a gift. We made some fun memories. :)