The great family reunion paradox

For two weeks in August our family had the thrill of blending our close family unit with other family members whom we have never spent more than a few hours with. With many looking on to see this experiment take place, we found that some were hoping for the best while others thought they were about to witness a horrific train crash.

Many of you have cousins who live in other cities – I have cousins who live in other countries. As the son of a Canadian mother, fully half of my family lives north of the border. When my grandmother was alive we were able to visit her every few years, but as she aged it became far more difficult for us to get together. When she passed away at the age of 100 years and six months, it signaled a cooling off of the relationships we had been working on.

Our Scottish ancestry has left us with one very distinct trait that confirms we go together – our red hair. My mother was a redhead, I was a redhead, and some of my grandchildren are redheads. How my own children escaped this trait is a miracle that I will never understand.

My mother’s surname was Lamb so each time a new grandchild was brought into this world she would present them with an afghan blanket and a little stuffed lamb. Most of my children have the lambs my mother gave them as many as 35 years ago. It’s a tradition I hope to be able to continue as more grandchildren are brought into this world.

For a few days of our family reunion we stayed in the home of a cousin I hadn’t known until five years ago when his wife came looking for us. I found it very endearing to see that this cousin also gives out little stuffed lambs to all his posterity. Whoever started this tradition should get a star by their name in heaven as it serves as a beautiful reminder that we all belong together.

Our family reunion in Canada was the first time many of my brothers and sisters had met with the Canadian side of the family. Though we weren’t too concerned about mixing the two families together, we were uneasy about spending three days together. For this reason alone, my siblings all booked stays in area B&B facilities. This way they could retreat if things went south.

The location chosen for our reunion was a girl’s camp named Camp Arbuckle, located on the shores of Okanagan Lake near Kelowna, BC. Most of the Lenkersdorfer side of the family flew in the day of the reunion and had rented cars that would give them the ability to disappear if needed. We had our camp trailer with us which gave us a place to disappear if needed.

Our cousins were very close, sharing a love for each other that most families never see. We were lucky to have our son-in-law and two of our grandchildren with us. They had so much fun getting to know cousins their age. As the reunion progressed we began to dread the fact that in two days- time we would be back in our own worlds, living separate lives.

The train wreck our son-in-law thought would happen never did, and the more time we spent together the more love he saw exchanged. He comes from a small family and had never experienced the craziness he was seeing all around.

Most of all, the surprises we experienced were the result of the beauty of our second home of Canada. There is so much beauty around that it is difficult to decide which of many alternatives we would pick. One small waterfall turned into two, then three. Clear pools collected the snowmelt and with just the right amount of effort we were able to hike to most of the places we wanted to see. If you haven’t been to Canada you are missing so much beauty. The United States has some beautiful country in Glacier National Park, rivaling what Canada can offer. It was nice that we don’t have to choose one over the other. Being able to experience this with our family from the north made it even more special. In the weeks to come I’ll share some of my pictures so you too can see just how lucky we are to live in the west.

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