About a year ago, I got an email from my aunt about this summer’s family reunion. I immediately looked up the Tamaracks Campground at Lake Seeley and picked out what looked to be like an appropriate sized cabin for our family and booked it. Turns out to be a considerably sized cabin with appropriate decor.

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This big elk presides over the living area of the cabin. The 8YO was a little freaked out by it to begin with, but has managed to fall asleep in spite of the fact his eyes seem to follow us around the room.

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The view from our side deck is pretty nice, too.

All thirty-five of is descended upon the local steak house for dinner last night. The options were simply chopped sirloin, sirloin, or special sirloin. The sides were salad, bread, mushrooms, potatoes, and watermelon rind pickles. They were gracious enough to let the kids order from the adjacent burger portion of the restaurant, so our 8YO was happy. The decor was pretty much dark wood interior, so the lighting made for pretty bad photos.

On the way back from the steak place, we stopped with my brother and his girls to get ice-cream. His SO, Kristy, caught some funny car trip moments during their two day drive up from Carson City. In this picture, she’s sharing the raw footage of the four girls rocking out in the car. (It’s really pretty funny.)

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Reunions can be stressful in different ways. For me, constant socializing can be hard. For the kids, not just mine, I think that trying to just figure out who everyone is creates a certain amount confusion. It doesn’t help that the easiest way to describe a relationship is hard to understand. “She’s my first cousin once removed, but she’s your second cousin.” Just saying, “She’s a cousin,” has become the easy answer.

The hardest thing for me about a reunion like this is the diversity. I’ve chosen to surround myself with family, most of whom hold quite different political and religious views from my own. I’ve learned it’s easier to try to keep the topic of conversation on things that won’t spark too much debate.

When one of my cousins said something disparaging about “those damn environmentalists,” my brother turned to me and said,”Sorry, Laurie, you are in Montana.” I am pretty sure my cousin simply doesn’t know just how liberal I am. I replied that I knew I was the minority in this group, and eventually managed to find a conversation in another group that involved quilting.

One advantage to having so many people around is I can always find something else to do than engage in a fruitless debate with family I see once every couple of years. It’s much more pleasant to search for common ground–of which there is plenty. Can you say s’mores?