My dad's side of the family gets together yearly for the family reunion. It's always held at my Aunt Pat's home, not only because she has acres and acres and the setting is perfect, but because she's the Matriarch of the bunch.
My dad left us and began his new family when I was nine years old. Because we moved away and of course because they were divorced, my mother never really took us to visit with any of dad's family over those following years. I was always saddened by that and being a kid, of course, I didn't understand everything that transpired during those times and why it was the way it was. I kept in touch sporadically with a couple of my cousins but nothing lasting.
After graduating, my dad came back into our lives and with him came the rest of the family. That first year I went with him to our family reunion, I was filled with excitement and trepidation. I stepped out of the car to be met with the hardest and most heartfelt hug from Aunt Pat. She couldn't stop looking at me and telling how good it was to see me. Those missing years melted away.
With everyone else, it felt a little different but still good. All the "stories" were told again and again. There are lots of stories and inside jokes that my sister and I didn't get. We met cousins we didn't get to meet before or that we were too young to remember. Pictures, food, swimming, games, fireworks. A typical family reunion.
Each year we've returned and listened to the stories again and again. My sister and I, though we feel a part of the family, still feel a little outside of it. Just enough to wonder if we'll make the trip each year and just enough to pack up the car and go.