Reunion – Part I: NATO Peacekeeping

Knowing that the weekend was fraught with potential hostilities, incendiary devices and decades of unresolved conflict, i knew i would need to hit it early and hit it hard.  Rules of Engagement would be necessary for all of my clan, as we descended upon a lovely wilderness area in Tennessee for our second extended family reunion weekend.

Three rental cabins to assure lodgings for all, with assigned lodging to accomplish the following objectives:

– Protection of Civilians:  Keeping my cousins clear of hostilities that might erupt between my niece, DQ and her family, and my sister, Hurricane T.  Warring for the past decade, i needed to assure minimal collateral damage.

– Enjoyment for Cousins:  Group the attendees together in an efficient way, taking advantage of having a pod of third and fourth generation “young ‘uns” at the cabins.  Keep the small kids together for a chance to bond.  Keep the small kids away from adults who are annoyed by small kids.

– Retreat Positions for Warring Factions:  Keep Hurricane T and DQ physically separated.  Give DQ time away from her role as Mom’s primary caregiver. Provide ample time for Hurricane T to visit with Mom since it’s been two years since they’ve been in the same state.

Given the mission/objective challenges, i wanted to be ‘first in’ to gain full situational awareness.  Visiting each cabin, i laid in provisions as i checked out facilities.

Basic Provisions i brought to HQ

DQ and her clan would be staying at the largest cabin, which would be filled with her generation of cousins, and their young children.  Swinging by that cabin, after unloading my gear in my cabin, i found their crew arriving and starting to get settled in.

daisyfae: Let’s do the indoctrination briefing now, before the others arrive.  For this weekend, i am your NATO Peacekeeping Force Commander.  Should you run into any problems with ANYTHING, bring it to me first.  There are coalition forces in attendance – Cousin S and Cousin L are apprised of the challenges we may encounter with Hurricane T, know that there have been hostilities in the past, and are sympathetic to your position.  You can rely on them as needed for support.

i delivered the speech with a degree of farcical melodrama – but we all knew the underlying truth of it. Mom was on board as well, sharing some concerns, and encouraging DQ to keep her cool if possible.  i reminded Mom of her role – “You’re part of the comms team, Momma!  Be direct!  Be consistent!  Let Hurricane T know your position on things!”  We were a little less puckered afterwards, and even managed a few nervous laughs.

i took Mom and her gear back with me to Headquarters – the cabin we’d be sharing with Hurricane T and her partner, TK.  They’d sent a text saying they’d found a liquor store near the airport, and would be arriving at the cabins within the hour.

And they did…

Provisions AFTER the arrival of the reinforcements…

Hurricane T hadn’t seen Mom in two years, as she’s refused to visit her in the current trailer park situation.  Giving them time to get gear unloaded into the loft of the cabin, and visit with Mom a bit, i then launched into their version of the NATO indoctrination briefing.

daisyfae:  As i have told the other faction, i am to be your NATO Peacekeeper for the weekend.  If you encounter resistance, frustration, or behavior that mystifies you in any manner, please bring your concerns to me directly for interpretation and resolution.  Our goal is for all to have an enjoyable weekend, and that there are no fatalities…

Following the same farcical delivery as i had for DQ and her clan, i laid out the same essential message.  For Hurricane T, and TK, however, there were added minefields that had to be addressed.

daisyfae:  For full situational awareness, i want to give you a short bio on each of your extended cousins.  They are delightful human beings!  They may seem culturally different at first, and this may be frightening, but with a little preparation, i believe there will be no issues.

Hurricane T:  Not worried about the cousins.  We’re in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee!  They don’t like gays here?  Are we going to get strung up by our thumbs or something?

daisyfae:  Statistically speaking, you were in more danger driving to the airport in Miami than you are here!  Relax!  The cultural differences within the clan may be initially disarming!  They are mostly non-drinkers, so…

Hurricane T:  WHAT?!?!

daisyfae:  Let me finish — non-drinkers, but non-judgmental!  That said, we are all in this cabin for a reason [points to ‘provisions’ counter in kitchen].  Let’s try to contain the drinking to our quarters.  Just easier that way.  Keep it discreet.  Low key.

As TK went to mix up a fresh round of drinks, i continued to talk to them about ‘common ground’.

daisyfae:  Your cousin, L?  She’s an amazing woman. She’s PR director for the small town school district, a columnist for the local paper, and quite an adventurer.  Cousin P, and his wife, P?  RABID collegiate sports fans!  You guys will be able to go on endlessly about the strengths of the South East Conference, down to details of recruiting prospects for next year.  Cousin S?  She’s pretty brilliant and adventurous in her own way…  And don’t let these sweet western Kentucky accents throw you off.  They are all very intelligent, very astute, and genuinely good folks.  Relax and get to know them a bit!

Briefing concluded:  Friday, 5:00pm local time.  We loaded up the car and headed for the main cabin to begin the reunion…