Picture this! An 18-person gathering for THREE days! Seven children ranging from 5 - 16; four speak only French; my own grandchildren only English. They've never met! That leaves 11 adults, six speak only English; four are bi-lingual, the others' foreign language ability is unknown or shaky! I do speak French, but at this point, my talents lie in other areas - I should be able to converse with all the kids at least.
Initially, 14 were going to stay in a hotel (breakfast served), and spend all the time at our house. But a stroke of luck enabled me to rent a house on Figure Eight Island, about 7 minutes from our house. Sight
and site unseen, I'm delighted! How bad can anything be on Figure Eight, an exclusive residential beach community reached only by private bridge. Walk to the beach! Game Room! Bunk Room! Elevator! Sleeps 14 - 16. So.....the grandparents (read that my husband, me, sister- and brother-in-law, and the dogs) will stay at our house - ALL the younger generation will stay at the rental.
Meals? Well, it is a family reunion, so we WANT to be together! I don't do breakfast, so I'll stock the house (more on that in a minute!) with the basics, after which they can take themselves to one of two grocery stores about 2 miles away. I've already made and frozen parts of the dinner meals, and have two lists a mile long for Costco and for the local grocery store. I'm putting off most of the shopping until Thursday and Friday, so I don't have to schlep EVERYTHING into my house and then repack the cars to bring it all over to the rental house.
But of course, I started the shopping weeks ago, so I have piles of supplies, groceries, games, etc. already gracing just about every room in my house. I've arranged for a photographer to come do family photos at the beach - we decided on jeans and white shirts - or was it khaki and white? (because the last time we did such photos, we did khaki and white). Perhaps we'll be shopping at the last minute to get everyone properly attired!
So....how did this evolve? Apparently in France, it's tradition for one's 40th anniversary to take the entire family somewhere special. SIL and BIL decided to come to the States from France, to have their daughters recapture the summers of their youth when they used to come to Cape Cod for their annual 6 week visit to THEIR grandparents' home. And now their family has expanded to include husbands and two children each. It was impossible for our part of the family to join them there (too far, too much time away from our family's jobs, doctors, too costly, etc.), so we suggested they come here. Hmmmmm! And we thought it was too late when this was decided to find a house rental to meet somewhere in the middle. Now that I found the local house I'm wondering if indeed we might have found something in the Chesapeake region. But I digress!
How do you cook for 18 people? I've never done it before! Parties for 50+, sure! But that was when we were young AND we had a pool AND a large chest freezer in the garage plus an extra fridge. That was when all my friends BROUGHT goodies and helped with everything. That was when I hired a person to help serve and clean up, and then everyone went home. So.....this IS a challenge!
But.....in the end, this is all about family! True, it wasn't our idea, and we would have preferred to wait another year with time to find just the perfect setting where everyone (including the rest of the Massachusetts family) could be together, share in the work, expense, and organization, but who knows what another year might bring? Can't argue with that, so here they come!
And we will bridge the language barriers, the children of all ages, styles, preferences, quirks, the cultural differences (good exposure for all these children!), and we will have fun at the beach, at our country club pool, at the rental house, at various planned (and unplanned) activities, and then..........I will go into a coma for several days - until my next journey to RI the following week. But that's another story!