Hanging out with my mom's side of the family wasn't even the impetus for our trip this year. My dad's cousin had helped organize a Freebairn family reunion, gathering my dad's mother's siblings and their families.
My dad's family has always been more far-flung, with his siblings in New York, Virginia and (now) South Carolina and my grandparent,until a few years ago,in Virginia. During this time, we lived in Arkansas, Indiana and Texas, so our trips to visit were fewer and farther in between.
But I did know my great-aunts and uncles a bit better since they live in the same farming area as my mom's family. My dad grew up spending summers on his uncle Tom's farm (which explains how my parents met), so holidays and visits to Ottawa always meant a trip to see Tom and June on the farm, who were really a second family to my dad. I remember going to visit my affable Uncle Tom and Aunt June who always had ice cream on hand for the kids, as well as visits with my dad's uncle Wes and aunt Naomi, typically around the holidays, when their houses would be filled with their kids, and their kids' kids and lots of delicious baked goods, like shortbread and Scotch cookies.
So while I grew up knowing my great aunts and uncles on that side of the family, I hadn't really seen many of these relatives since the last reunion, 13 years prior. So Tyler and I decided to make the trip to the reunion happen so we could re-connect with that side of the family, too. And I was happy that the reason for the gathering could just be for people to get together. Over the past few years, more of that generation has passed on, including Tom, Wes and Naomi. Of the five Freebairn siblings, only my grandma, one of her brothers and Tom's wife June are still with us.
Despite 13 years or more, it was amazing how recognizable some of my second cousins were. I'd see them and have vague memories of running around together when we were little during the holidays. And even people who I was really meeting for the first time were so nice and friendly. There were a few gatherings over the weekend, but the last one was a potluck picnic at my great aunts house out in the country--again, lots of family and lots of food.
Once again, I did a terrible job taking photos (still hoping to snag some from others who were there!) so I borrowed this one my aunt took of all the baked goods, most of which my grandmother made--Scotch cookies, short bread, orange slice cookies--mmmm.
I might have to update this after some further investigation. I can't Google and get a good explanation for what Scotch cookies are. They're not butterscotch--they seem like good sugar-type cookies with the defining characteristic of having some egg cooked on top.
And spending time on a farm is definitely different than hanging out in the city:
Stella's favorite part was probably the battery-powered cars that were on the farm. This one's battery was charging, so Uncle Dick was nice enough to give her a Stachowiak-powered ride.
Eventually, Stella ended up in a car with a battery. She was in heaven.
Did I mention the driver is three?!
It was a blessing to get to spend time with so much family who travelled everywhere from New York, South Carolina, St. Louis, Georgia, Texas and maybe other places to get together. Thanks to Rita and June for all their planning! Hopefully we can have another get together just because it's fun before another 13 years pass!
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