I just called my family. Everyone is at Joe and Cindy's house. They'd returned from the cemetary, ate lunch and are now getting ready for Texas Hold'Em. Of course they all teased me. One brother thought I was on my cell phone and would be walking through the door. Alas, it's not to be this year. But as promised to a few friends, here's an account of last year's party... and a picture that I'd posted later.
1/2/05 Happy New Year!
This is my first opportunity to post. I had the best New Year's ever. On Thursday, due to the evil genius of my s-i-l, Karen, married to my brother Jim, we decided that on Saturday we'd drive to Quincy and surprise everyone at the cemetary. I live 6 hours from Q and they live 4 1/2 hours, so I drove to their place and rode with them.
First we had New Year's Eve at their home. They have a dinner party every year with a few friends. And they have the most well stocked bar I've ever seen. I got fooled into drinking grappa last year (never again) and this year drank glug (gloog?), a Scandinavian drink made from fermented raisins and other fruit with grain alcohol added. Reminded me of college. Not horrific, but not interested in doing it again. And the worst was malert, or was it spelled melort or malort? Yeah, I think it's malort. Anyway, it's a cross between gasoline and horse pee. I'm sure that's what those two things would taste like, although I've never had the privilege. But trust me--malort is absolutely wretched. I'm shivering as I type.
I did drink tons of really good liquor however. Since the guest room is right next to the bar in the lower level, I thought it was a good time to drink.
We got only about 2 hours sleep because we had to wake up at 4:30 and left for Quincy at 6 AM Friday morning and arrived at the cemetary around 11:15 AM, just 5 minutes before the Quincy relatives. We'd opened beers and were standing by Mom and Dad's graves. Everyone was so surprised to see us. Our plan worked.
We all (nearly 20 of us?) drank and toasted our parents. Then some poured a little beer on their graves, and also on Grandpa and Grandma's. Individuals went around to visit other graves--their inlaws or friends. Some friends died young, as teenagers or young adults, and my brothers tipped a few drops there too.
This is one of our favorite family traditions.
Mom died the day after Thanksgiving in 1980--young and unexepectedly. Dad died 5 years and 34 days later on New Year's Day 1986. He died in his sleep and we know that the last thing he heard was my brothers' laughing in the dining room as they played Risk. My brother Joe and s-i-l Cindy bought our family home and every year since Dad's death we've gathered there on New Year's Day to play games and have fun. But we always start with a visit to the cemetary to have a beer with Mom and Dad.
We played so many different games--but this year the favorite was poker, Texas Hold 'Em. I ended up coming home with about $50 more than I went with. A very cool, and unusual occurence. We played $5 games and then $10 games. And we had two tables of seven people playing. What a riot!
The food was superb, as was the beer. But the best thing was the company. From the youngest member Blake (less than a year) to the oldest member me. And we had two "boyfriends" there. Jenna's boyfriend Josh and Kristen's boyfriend Rich. Neither one was scared away, which we always think is a good sign. (My daughter lost two boyfriends after they met us en masse. We knew Todd was a keeper after he didn't break up with her.)
I got home late this afternoon and have happy memories. And also a real need for sleep.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(Note: there are now 47 folks in our family, and usually more than 20 make it out to the cemetary for the annual drink-a-beer-with-the-folks gathering. I don't know how many went this year, but here's a picture from 1/1/05. I'm in the middle in the rose-colored coat with a beer in my hand.)