Children find endless ways to entertain themselves given nature, some free time, and a bevy of inquisitive cousins. ©Adobe Stock

This past summer I hosted a week-long family reunion at our home in rural Wisconsin. My sons and their families live in large metropolitan areas in other states, and, as I don’t see them as often as I’d like, I was quite excited about everyone being under my roof at the same time. I also wanted my citified grandchildren to experience a little of country life.

My husband and I went to great lengths to prepare in the months preceding the reunion. He got our huge backyard looking like a country-magazine photo, even building a new fire pit. I cooked and baked for days preceding the event, cleaned house until it sparkled, and scoured yard sales for second-hand toys and outdoor games for the grandchildren. We purchased air mattresses and set up extra living quarters in two spare bedrooms, stocked the freezer, arranged the garage as an extra room to gather in, and set up an extendable awning over the deck to shield everyone from rain and the hot sun.

During the week of the reunion I took the grandchildren hiking, to the zoo, to a reforestation camp and to a wildlife preserve. For the adult males, my husband planned a tour of Lambeau Field (home of the Packers). I shopped and took short sightseeing trips with my daughters-in-law. The house, even with everyone pitching in with housework, was in constant disarray. The washer and dryer were in constant use, the bathroom floor was often strewn with wet towels and children’s swimsuits after forays to the nearby river, and one person or another, it seemed, was always in the shower.
And the noise! Small children chased cats down the hall, screaming to hold them, the kitchen door and the sliding door leading to the deck and backyard slammed open and shut constantly, loud music shook the rafters, and adults and children alike stayed up until well after midnight playing, talking, laughing downstairs or outside around a campfire.

Was it all worth it, I wondered? Could I do it again? I was not a young woman any longer.

On the last day of the reunion, utterly exhausted, I lay on the sofa gazing about the living room. The floor was covered with suitcases, duffel bags, dirty clothes and sneakers, blankets, laptops, and sleeping bags. Was it all worth it, I wondered? Could I do it again? I was not, after all, a young woman any longer.

Then the soft murmur of voices caught my attention. My three granddaughters, ages 5, 4 and 3, were seated in front of the TV watching a children’s video, their small bodies swaying in time to the soundtrack. Now and then, Clara, the oldest, would stop swaying in order to explain to her younger cousins the sequence of events on the video. They would then whisper back and forth excitedly, giggling softly.
I felt my eyes moisten. Yes, I thought, it had all been worth it. And I would do it again.

BARBARA WEDDLE is a freelance writer from Wisconsin.




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