I had the good fortune to marry into an incredible family so when our annual family reunion rolls around I know I’m in for a great time! For starters it’s at the beach which makes it a winner before it even begins and it’s at a quaint old Florida style resort — the Seahorse Inn on Neptune Beach. They even have our name on the welcome sign.
We have a series of set traditions that have evolved over the years; a few weeks before an annual Jager Nation Family Reunion newsletter is sent out by my brother in law. It highlights the upcoming days events.
Wednesday: the early arrivals come in and the feeding and drinking frenzy begins. Its usually the most laid back day and evening as we all begin to decompress and wait for the little kiddos and a few more families to arrive. Some quiet time is enjoyed in a smaller group setting.
Now, trying to get 30 people seated at a crowded restaurant and one that everyone likes is next to impossible so we’ve come up with ‘finnin’. Which means each family fends for themselves and we gather with our take out containers in the common area to eat dinner together. Or together for the most part.
The Seahorse is surrounded by a bevy of restaurants, shops and bars all within walking distance. I have my favorites which we frequent every year, occasionally trying out a new one.
Thursday: we head down to the beach for a day of fun while we wait for the rest of the family to arrive, watching everyone unpack, sweat and settle in. That’s followed by another night of ‘finnin’ and the advent of the annual Poker Prelims; and this year we all wore a throwback tee. The reunions have been taking place since 1990 with custom printed tee shirts becoming a staple starting 1995; needless to say we had plenty to choose form.
Friday: this year the morning started quite differently with a ocean side memorial. We lost our patriarch six weeks prior and the final wishes were to be joined with the matriarch and the ashes sprinkled in the ocean. While laden with grief and a melancholy feeling for part of the afternoon the closure was soul cleansing especially for the five siblings.
The morning event was followed by a breakfast gathering, beach time, ‘finnin’ and the Poker finals rounded out the night.
Saturday: is the last day but definitely one of the best days — we’re all pretty relaxed by this time. After another action and fun filled day at the beach we had our crazy contest — yet another tradition where each year something is chosen to be decorated such as crazy shirt, hat, sunglasses etc and this year it was crazy towels.
They are all laid out right after dinner and the judging begins…
After the crazy contest there is often entertainment provided by a few of the more talented members of the family; three of our nieces better known as The Dancers 3 gave an outstanding performance.
There is also a Shut the Box tournament, run by my nephew, that goes on all day Friday and Saturday with the winner being announced Saturday night.
Bocce, cornhole and other games will sometimes be played along with boogie boarding and surfing depending on the wave action. Never a dull moment. And often a fashion statement.
After the sun sets on Saturday it’s time for more entertainment. We all gather in one family’s hotel room and watch a slideshow collection of pictures taken by all throughout the weekend set to a bevy of summer songs chosen by each member of the family. By know it’s probably clear that just about everything is either bet on or a contest.
So right after the slideshow the songs are played in their entirety and the option is given to entertain with a routine of choice. Some of the family members unbeknownst to all actually choreographed and practiced a routine to their summer song. Not fair but very impressive. Yes, they won. We will be ready next year…
We conclude the evenings activities by choosing what will be the crazy item for next year, who will do the tee shirts and confirm that we have all booked our rooms as they go quickly at the Seahorse. The evening is then capped off with last night socializing.
And of course there is the ever impressive family photo. It generally takes about 30+ minutes to get everyone and everyone’s cameras coordinated but well worth the final result. Thirty one year’s with this family; so many memories, so many wonderful times. I am fortunate to have become a part of this family. While none of us are perfect we are a family that loves each other and always has each other’s back. Some things are worth their weight in gold.