Rejoicing with family in the beautiful land of life

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life.”

Albert Einstein said it and we did it this past weekend, a bunch of precious family members mustering for joy.

That our beautiful land of life involved patchy ice and unseasonable wind chills did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of our guests, who blew in from both coasts and executed logistics with military precision.

“They’ll fly in here, stay there, drive up the next day and arrive then.”

“He’ll catch this flight, and land here; she’ll pick him up at the airport, and they’ll all drive up tomorrow.”

“She’ll rent a car, swing in to pick them up, and come straight to the house.

Somehow, everyone ended up where they needed to be and our gathering proceeded with great gratitude for clear skies and good health.

We paused frequently throughout the weekend to take in the kind of vignettes we’ve learned never to take for granted:

  • A table full of young cousins playing cards with the furrowed concentration of old men; another table full of grown men playing cards with the giggling glee of young boys.
  • A dignified matriarch sitting at the head of a dining room table that used to be hers.
  • A healthy nephew zooming down a sled hill.
  • A harried television producer pocketing his cell phone.
  • A pretty little imp jumping on the couch.
  • Five busy adult sisters enjoying a casual chat.
  • A regal retired judge enthusiastically describing the flavor of Rakia, her favorite Croatian brandy.
  • A consistently helpful brother in-law gathering dishes and sweeping floors.

We raised our glasses a couple of times throughout the three-day festivities to toast the occasion, the travelers, the food, the weather, the present company and the lasting influence of those who joined us in spirit.

Our family members, like yours, are busy people — they’re teachers, journalists, salesmen, lawyers, businessmen, and supervisors. They traveled from Oregon, Washington D.C., New York, Florida, Michigan and Illinois; from universities, apartments, houses and assisted living facilities.

With the exponentially increasing value of free time, we genuinely appreciate the effort each of our relatives made to join us in Appleton this weekend, where we celebrated with gusto our opportunity to rejoice in the beautiful land of life.

A game of cards
In a poignant recreation of a storied tradition, these guys played a little Sheepshead, just like they used to do every summer with their dad during boys weekend in Sheboygan.
cousin card players
Meanwhile, the next generation of card sharks, the grenadine gang, hustled up a game or two.
Aunt Pat and Grandma Mary Jane
Two matriarchs, sisters in-law and mothers to a combined 17 offspring enjoyed a chance to catch up.
Carol connecting
Carol worked hard to digitally connect family members who could not physically join in the fun.
Choo Choo Charlie
Charlie sported his upscaled version of Wisconsin casual.
Donald Campbell
Cousin Donald ably represented the Campbell cousins.
Grandma Mary Jane and Elaine
I love this picture of my sister in-law Elaine and the Outlaw Mary Jane. They make quite a team.
Group shot
The peanut gallery. I’m not sure what they’re looking at, but I love this picture.
Erin and Vince
We’ll treasure this original artwork by Miss Erin.
Mom, Melissa, Jenny
A perfect melding of the two families. My mom, my sister in-law Melissa and my sister Jenny.
Vince Investiture_2-20-15-296
They came all the way from Portland for the fun.
Jenny, Kathy Vince and the gavel
My sisters gave Vince a gavel.
Tim and Marge Higgins
Our friends Tim and Marge Higgins added Irish charm.
Vince and Elaine
Vince and his sister Elaine.
Vince and Katherine
Vince and Katherine.
The whole group 2
The whole giant family. We had a great weekend! P.S. Happy birthday Vince!



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