Each year my dad’s cousin throws what she calls her Cousins Party. She invites everyone even distantly related to us. Individuals come whom I can recollect encountering there annually, and I know they must be related to me, but I still haven’t the least idea how. The date of the party changes every year, and isn’t even always in the same season. Last Christmas, Barbara had the greatest crowd ever and the sink broke halfway through the celebration. It was a disaster and dishes were piled high on the counter. Then the men stepped in. It was hilarious to see my Dad’s cousin Ronald, uncle Eddie and my cousin Patrick all standing around the sink with flashlights and wrenches, arguing over exactly what needed to be done, as Barbara kept tugging at her hair and pacing in and out of the room.

Barbara is unbelievably generous in everything she does. She cooks all of the food for what is usually a crowd of fifty, plus purchases enough beer, wine and hard liquor for an army (and when the family is 3/4 Irish, that’s useful!). Plus, she buys a gift for every single guest. Sometimes the gifts are each completely unique and different. Other times there’s a theme. This year’s party, which we just attended, was a themed year. Barbara’s best friend owns a company that sells hats online. Barbara bought each and every one of us a different chapeau. Her husband Bill, her personal hero, got an Indiana Jones fedora hat. Her son, who owns a landscaping business, got one of those Tilley hats. Both are gorgeous and perfect for the giftee. Mine, on the other hand, was one of these. Alas. I execrate pink and am anything but a cowgirl.

My lack of enthusiasm and gratitude left me feeling rather shamed. By the time the party was over, I found I’d volunteered to help complete an online family tree. Well, at littlest now I’ll finally figure out how I’m related to all of those people at the party. I’ve started some of the research, and am surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. There’s something very satisfying in digging up historical details about one’s ancestors that everyone living has forgotten. By the next family party, I hope to have found something really interesting in our past to astonish everyone!

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