Monday, May 28, 2007

Dude, just get away from our family

On my dad's side of the family it's been the same Memorial Day for decades. First, they visit the Pleasant Ridge Cemetary in rural Norway, KS for the American Legion ceremony and to lay flowers on the graves of our relatives that have passed away going back several generations. Members of the Legion come out and lay a wreath under the flag before a 21 gun salute and the playing of "Taps" on the bugle. It's a nice ceremony and definitely a great tradition. I've been going there since I was born and have only missed maybe 1 or 2 in my life while I was in Ames. (Interestingly enough the family name is "Ames" also although we aren't related to Oakes Ames, the namesake of the town. Which is ok by me as he was also a crook and never actually saw the town.)

After that we gather for a huge potluck meal in the Norway, KS gym. After the food settles we usually get some pretty intense basketball action going. The tradition has become "old guys" versus "young guys" in recent years. I managed to work my way onto the old guy team which probably has more to do with my receding hairline than the fact that I'm the oldest of the group of cousins.

The day starts at the cemetary and it's kind of raining so they didn't put all of the flags up like they normally do. Well, the Legion shows up and they decide they're going to put the flags up now so they start handing out flags in plastic bags. After some laughter and jokes about screwing it up and causing the Legion to use you as target practice for the 21 gun salute I manage to get the flag up on the pole and in the correct direction. Inside the bag there was what I thought was another U.S. flag but I realized the error of my ways when all of the other American flags had a different state flag flying under it representing the home states of veterans that had died or something. So, I had inadvertantly dishonored the veterans of Iowa that included some ancient relative of mind.

Most people took in stride but the woman with all the flags looked pretty pissed at me. I think if she's going to bitch she shouldn't wait until the last minute and then hand flags to me like I'm not going to screw it up. What do I know about flag poles?

The Legion is standing around waiting for us to get our shit together which is taking forever so she really could have put that flag up there if she wanted to. Finally they do their thing and it's kind of sad because there was this one guy who was really old and we noticed that he didn't get his final shot off in time so at the very maximum we had a 20 gun salute. I just wish the American Legion didn't hate America. Wait a second...

After this it was off to explore the farm and then the gym. We usually have a great day and, like I said, it's been the same day, same place for decades so that's kind of cool.

Well, last year my sister and I began to notice that there were a lot of people that we didn't recognize at all. It's not that uncommon to have a few randoms there but their numbers seemingly exploded and they were everywhere. That was kind of odd we thought but never really cared too much. Until this year.

We show up at the gym and head inside only to find one of these random women with a name I'd never heard of sitting at a card table by the door. I see that people are wearing nametags for the first time ever. Well, that's not a bad idea, I guess, since I sometimes get my dad's cousins confused or forget a name. So, we go up to the table and the woman just kind of stares at us. There is a guestbook to sign, a mailing list for addresses and email addresses (with explicit instructions to "PLEASE PRINT"), and a stack of nametags. I sign the guestbook, write all of my info on the list, and then start getting ready for my nametag. Only she won't let anyone else actually write their own name on the nametag. And not only that but she's just sitting there pretending that we don't exist.

After a few awkward moments she finally asks for our names. I spell my first name out like a jerk but I was getting tired of her attitude. I'm not allowed to write my own nametag now? What am I going to do?

She hands us her nametags and curtly says, "we're really glad you could make it."

Umm, what? Seriously? You just copped an attitude with us at an event we've been attending since we were just weeks old? No, I'm glad YOU could make it to OUR event but I'm not glad you feel the need to boss everyone around at it. They actually had a typed list of everyone that attended last year only everyone was grouped by town name so completely random people were thrown in together like they were a family. It was ridiculous.

And what the hell is going out in the mailing list? Hey, everybody, the reunion is the same time, same place next year! Don't forget.

Only, it appears they don't WANT it to be the same time, same place next year. Before the meal they start jabbering about how they asked the group that rents it on the Sunday before Memorial Day if they wanted to trade days. All of the regulars are like, "what?" Fortunately that group declined and they asked if we wanted to keep it on the same day. Everybody's like, "uhh, yeah." Then some woman pipes up, "well, we can rent my church and that way we could have it there instead." In one of the funnier moments my sister and I have witnessed at this thing my dad kind of yells, "Vetoed! It has to be in Norway."

Well, no shit, the regulars said. That's where the Ames family started from and it's been here forever on the same day.

Apparently these are the offspring of a sibling of my great-grandfather Ames but what is their deal? How far out on the family tree do we need to go? They don't really talk to us and we don't really talk to them they just show up and try to change everything. If there's one thing our family won't stand for it's screwing with tradition.

One of my grandma's sisters was really annoyed because of the whole deal and the fact that they tried to change some stuff. She said something to the effect of, "apparently the way I ran it for years wasn't good enough for them." Then her husband piped up, "well, I like the nametags." Oops. We all reassured her that she did a great job and that they screwed it up when the gym wasn't unlocked on time.

So, in the grand scheme of things it's kind of not a big deal but then it kind of is to us because this is our family and our traditions they're screwing with and just because they started coming in the last few years doesn't mean they can screw it up for the rest of us. As far as I'm concerned they can have their own thing in the church on Sunday and the rest of us will do just fine.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No mention of the fact that Shawn Walding dislocated cousin Isaac's finger within the first five minutes of the family basketball game? Chill out, Focker. It's just a game. The best part for me was listening to our second cousins come out of the game and say "who is that guy?"
And why did he hurt cousin Isaac? Jerk.

9:38 PM  

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