My Dad is one of seven children. Seven children who all married, had many children who are now having little curtain climbers of their own. You get the idea: we have a BIG family growing exponentially. Some would say there are too many of us to gather for a weekend-long family reunion. But the Anderson’s are a close-knit bunch. And my 91-year old grandfather loves having all of his family in one place once a year, which really isn’t so much to ask considering how much we all love him. But it’s really quite amazing, dozens of families driving and flying from all over to come to this 72-hour event.
Over the years, the reunion evolved as our numbers continued to grow. It started out in my grandparents’ modest home in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Sibs and spouses each in a room with the first few grandkids sleeping on cots and in sleeping bags. When it became clear that the clan was outgrowing the house we moved to hotels (for a couple years we went to a less-than-classy establishment called “The Pink Flamingo” purely because it was close to my grandparents’ house and it had a pool). But the hotel rooms felt too disconnected. We never knew where anyone was. We needed a common area where we could gather and do what we Anderson’s do best: eat, drink and talk…for hours. And then, of course, there was the issue of cooking. Eating out is expensive with a group our size.
There aren’t many places that can accommodate seventy people (Yes seventy). But about eight years ago we found a place in the Smoky Mountains of Knoxville, Tennessee. One massive house with seventeen bedrooms and a room full of bunk beds. We rented an adjacent cottage for a few extra bedrooms and we were set. The major selling point—it had two enormous living rooms and, more importantly, two full kitchens.
For the past several years we hired two lovely women (who are more like family than friends) to come in and cook for us so that we could just focus on the visiting, catching up and having fun. But this year the reunion was short so it was decided that we would save a little money and cook ourselves. It was a heck of a lot more work than anyone expected and my aunt Susan and uncle Steve spent the majority of the time in the kitchen. Of course we all pitched in and helped, but cooking for and cleaning up after a group that large is hard, no matter how much has been pre-planned and organized. The first night, Aunt Susan came prepared to feed weary travelers with a stick-to-your-ribs and warm-your-belly dinner: Sloppy Joe’s.
Melissa Eimers says
And they were DELICIOUS!! And the company was splendid. 🙂
What a wonderful idea! I am one of seven also and we struggle to get together other than Christmas.
After a few years of bad choices, our family finally figured out what we needed–mostly just be together–and this house and adjacent cabin works incredibly well.
We’re still working on the food thing. When you’ve just got one weekend, you’re torn between eating well and spending quality time together. This year was good. Sloppy Joe’s the first night, take-out pizza the second night, and catered barbecue the final night with continental breakfasts and make-your-own-sandwiches for lunch. We’re toying with each of the seven families being in charge of buying prepping, serving, and cleaning up one meal next year so the burden doesn’t fall on anyone person. We’ll keep you posted on our ongoing family reunion logistics. If any of you have any success stories, do tell!
My family is also HUGE! My great grandparents had 11 children. Each of those 11 had at least 4. Those 44 then went on and had at least 3. Those 132 are now having children of their own! We have a family reunion every August on my aunt’s property. We do a huge potluck and raffle off a 40 year old petrified Oscar Meyer hot dog evey year as well. Thankfully the property is large enough for us all to camp or RV. We also rent out a hall for our Christmas party and do huge Chili feeds.
It’s wonderful to have those two events to look forward to all year long! We used to do Easter with the Great Grandparents at their house too! My grandma used to manage a hotel and we then switched all events to that property for sometime… I love the camping now though!
I KNEW i felt a kin~ship with you somehow!
My mom is an only child from up near where you mentioned, and then they settled in So. Central NE where we are now. She had 4 children who have grown up and now have 27 grandchildren and 12 great~grands all together. Wow! with spouses that makes a HUGE bunch these days too. We have outgrown all the gathering spots and are on a quest for a new idea. I like the cabin/lodge thing, but yes, to get the food thing figured out is a deal too.
Thanks for what you shared about your family.
Working on it
My husband reminded me that my above comment was a bit ‘one~sided’. He is the 7th of 12 kids…The big Irish brood.
Now when all of his side decides it is time to get together….well it really is beyond all hope to gather them all in. Besides, the roof would never stay on.
The whole outside thing for that Krew