Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Heart Family Picnics

Almost three decades ago, Graham's family started holding family picnics each summer so each side of the family--grandma & grandpa's kids, siblings, aunts, uncles, et cetera--could all get together and reunionize. They used to meet up in a forest preserve and everyone would bring a grill and make their own food and generally just have a good time. From what I understand there were games for the kids, Olympic medal races (with medals for prizes), and a big ole sandpit where kids could dig for quarters. One of the favorite picnic traditions, at least with the kiddos, were the yearly t-shirts that said, "I {Heart} Family Picnics" and always with the picnic year emblazoned on the front.

After a few years in the forest preserve, they decided to move the picnic to Aunt Erin's home because she had central air conditioning and a toilet that was enclosed in a plastic box. Shortly after the picnic moved from the forest preserve to the suburbs, the t-shirt tradition died off.

Fast-forward to Family Picnic XXVI, a.k.a. Picnic 2009. A bunch of us were standing around looking at family picnic photos from years past and spent a lot of time laughing over old haircuts, old clothes, and cousin Bob's "Caddy Tan". The idea of bringing back the t-shirts came up again and again, and finally we said, "Let's just do it!" I volunteered to take on t-shirt ordering if I could be provided with samples of older shirts to take to "my t-shirt guy". We decided that it would be a secret among the kids (i.e. anyone who wasn't grandma or one of her 5 kids, basically) and that we'd surprise the older generations with the shirts next year.

Fast-forward to 2010. We start planning t-shirts and collecting sizes for the big surprise. It takes a bit of work to get shirt sizes for some far-away relatives, and I have to pay a few visits to the t-shirt people to make sure the shirts look the way they're supposed to. Then there's a few more last minute phone calls to the shirt people after some cousins call and add a few more shirts to the order. Finally, it's picnic day! Graham and I have a few errands to run before we bolt out to Will County for the day. We're looking forward to an afternoon of food, bags, food, games, food, raffles, and food! We run some errands and leave the shirts at home because we've got to get ice and make a few more stops before leaving. I had planned on showering and changing. We're on our way to get ice, and BAM! Rear-ended!

Lemme tell ya, the fastest way to get attention in the ER is to show up and say you're 19 weeks pregnant and have been in a car accident. We were both fine. I had some bruising where the seatbelt tightened and a hell of a bump on my head, but baby and I were good. Graham was fine, too, after the doctor came in and said, "You're all good. You can go home now." He was able to breathe again and stop shaking. The good news is that we got a hell of a preview for actual labor, and I got a sneak peak and what getting hooked up to a fetal monitor feels like. And, naturally, the speed-through in the ER was great. I walked in, explained my situation, and the nurse on call looked at the registration tech and said, "She's going upstairs." They even brought me a wheelchair so they could whisk me upstairs when someone came down. I think we waited a total of 10 minutes. Not too shabby for a minor car accident on a Saturday. Meanwhile, the guy having a heart attack in the next room over was still waiting when they wheeled me upstairs. I wonder what happened to him...

After we were released from the hospital, we had to stop and get something to eat. They wouldn't let me eat anything on the chance that I was in preterm labor or was sufferring a placental abruption. A few hours in L&D makes a lady hungry! We stopped and got some quick fix foods, ran home, changed, took photos of the damage to the car, and grabbed the shirts. Honestly, we probably wouldn't have gone to the picnic at all if we didn't need to distribute the shirts. This project was a year in the making--we couldn't NOT show. And then I'd have 30 t-shirts that were basically a year old so we couldn't use them for next year's picnic. LAME. A few texts to let everyone know what was up and we were on our way.

Once we got to the picnic, we had very little time to catch people up on what happened before we were swarming with cousins demanding to know when we'd distribute shirts. The car accident ended up being a nice disguise, though. When all the cousins disappeared suddenly to distribute the shirts, someone told the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma that "everyone wanted to see the damage" on the car. So, thanks(?) guy who rear-ended us!(?) A quick shirt distribution, and we all paraded into the backyard like Chinese tourists in New York City. It was a hell of a day, but it was a nice surprise, and everyone was really excited to see the shirts make a comeback. Best of all, it won't have to be a surprise next year! EXCELLENT!

And of course, they made cousins and their significant others line up and take a photo to commemorate the occassion:

Missing a few cousins due to distance, time zones, and the military, but you get the general idea.

Aren't we a fun bunch? I tell ya, this is one sassy, fashionable family. The family that picnics together stays together! Or...something like that.

P.S. The picnic was actually in mid-July. I'm just now getting around to posting the photo and catching up. 'Cuz I'm lame.

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