Monday, April 14, 2008

From the Oma Storybook Collection

This booklet was the invitation to our family reunion.
Illustrations by Stephen Gammell

The Heroes Are Coming!

A poem of anticipation
by Oma

It's the summer of 2005,
And the Heroes are coming! Sakes Alive!
They're coming from Utah and Ohi-o,
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts...all over, you know.

They'll pack up their stuff, some treats and toys,
Leave at four in the morning! The girls and boys
And moms and dads, and uncles and aunts...
Oma and Opa can't wait! They just can't!

They'll travel all day and even at night.
They'll be such a welcome sight!
Oma and Opa will want to sing..
It's the Big Hero Happening!

Talk about hugging! They'll hug for hours.
There will be chasing and giggling and throwing flowers.
Then lots of laughing and food to eat,
Uno, and races, and cousins to beat.

Grownups will visit and babies will cry.
There'll be a contest to eat chocolate pie.
Lots of kids will be squeezed into just one bed,
And people will sleep with their legs on your head!

Snoring and breathing and whispering, too,
Someone might even sneak in and say, "Boo!"
There will be watermelon and ice cream cones,
We'll take a picture to hang up in our homes.

Finally, the Happening will have to end,
And all of the hugging will happen again.
At four in the morning, with kids all behaving,
Oma and Opa will stand outside waving.

Even though the goodbyes will be kind of sad,
We'll all be remembering the fun that we've had,
And when you are home and snug in your bed,
And nobody's leg is draped over your head,

You can dream about cousins! That's a great thing!
And the next Big Hero Happening!

Illustration Stephen Gammell

We started happening right away. Just before our first anniversary we had our first baby and our family added a kid every year or so after that. Just after our 12th anniversary we had our 7th child.

And just seven years later our oldest left for college. They tumbled out of our nest as fast as they had dropped in. We were full-time parents for 31 years, but we only had our whole family living together for seven of them. That always strikes me in a sentimental way.

It's been another 6 years and with seven in-law kids and almost 19 grandkids, we have 35 Heroes in our immediate family. They are spread out across the country, and it's been three years since we were all together at the same time. Since then we've added a daughter-in-law and a couple of babies. How can this far-flung family have any sense of unity? The little kids have seen their cousins only a few times, and most of the adults haven't ever lived in the same state.

Several years ago I saw a friend of mine in a restaurant seated at a table for twelve. She introduced me to her Cousin's Club. Libby explained that they had lunch together four times a year, and had done since her grandmother started the tradition when they were children 60 years before.

I loved the phrase Cousin's Club, and decided I would start one. We called our kids Heroes, and our in-law kids are Heroes, Too. The grandkids are Heroes, Two, (as in second generation.) Everybody got a membership card.

This is the flip side. It was contributed by my six-year-old grandson.

A newsletter goes out quarterly, with photos of the kids, and articles about their interests. I want them to feel like they know each other.

My little Heroes come up with great ideas for the Cousin's Club. A four-year-old granddaughter called and asked, "Oma, will you tell my mom I can use the printer because I'm making a book for the Cousin's Club." Apparently using the printer is reserved for adults in their house. I told her I'd put in a good word for her cause.

There will be a gathering of Heroes this summer and the whole club is getting excited. After our last reunion I put together this book for each family with photos and memories.

The Heroes Came

A poem of memories
by Oma

It was the summer of 2005
And the Heroes gathered. Sakes alive!
They came from Utah, and Colorado,
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts...all over, you know.

The moms and the dads, the girls and the boys.
The uncles and aunts...there was so much noise!
Oma and Opa wanted to sing:
It was a giant Hero Happening!

So many things happened, you couldn't keep track.
Oma had surprises in her Happening Pack.
Bottles were spinning, mummies were wrapped,
When the piƱata appeared, everyone clapped!

The Talent Show was the hit of the night
And the DVD brought sighs of delight.
Scary stories, necklaces, games and races,
Chugging, gymnastics, and tying shoelaces.

Pizza, fried chicken...we thought we'd die,
And then someone brought out the chocolate pie!
It was crazy, and it was a mess,
But everyone loved being put to the test

Of whether they could eat it all
Without any hands--Au natural.
It was a giant success and everyone won,
But wait! The reunion wasn't done...

The sun started setting and as it got dark
Opa decided to light up the park!
He passed out a lightstick to every grandchild
And like little fireflies, they all went wild.

Off they flew, and they twinkled with light,
(Grandchildren always make everything bright.)
Then home for baths, a movie and bed,
With memories bursting out of their heads.

There was more fun, at the lake and the pool,
So many activities that were really cool. always happens, wherever we roam,
The moms and the dads said "It's time to go home."

There was hugging and kissing and a couple of tears,
But all the Heroes have learned through the years,
That no matter how far we live from each other,
There's a cousin, an Opi, an uncle or brother
That's thinking of us! And that's a great thing...
That's how Halverson Heroes keep Happening!!!

How do you stay close to far-flung family?


Christie said...

We LOVE all your Cousin's Club stuff. It makes it so fun for the kids to be able to remember the cousins they don't see all the time. It truly is the best thing. I save everything we get. I just love it.

Annie said...

I love your creativity & your clear passion for your family. They're blessed to have you!

SaraLynn said...

Fantastic! This is a great idea!
We are lucky in that our family is mostly in two spots. So we drive 6 hours and can see everyone. usually once or twice a year.

Ashlee said...

I love that idea. So smart! :0) My cousins and I were very close when we were little, and now I barely know any of them. I don't want the same to happen with my kids and their cousins. I might have to steal the idea! :0)

Nina Lewis said...

I love the idea of a cousin's club! What a fun idea.

When my sister and I were newly weds, we would have 'sister's day.' Once a month we'd get together to do something together as sisters. Then, kids started coming, then life happened . . .

Now that our wee little ones are no longer so wee, we're talking about starting up again!

Sheri said...

Brilliant! As always, as are you. You are truely amazing. I would love to have your energy, wit, talent and IDEAS (and grandkids)!

kenju said...

What a smashing idea!! Our grandchildren are within 90 miles of each other, and we get together often, but I love your ideas!

gab said...

Whenever we get the mail, my kids start asking, "Is it from Cousins Club?" They love it and I do too!

gab said...

p.s. Maybe you should give a talk about this stuff...

The World According to Me said...

Brilliant! Makes me want to be part of the Cousins Club!

diane said...

The Cousins Club is brilliant! I love it.

Barbara & Morris said...

The Relatives Came by
Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell is one of my favorite stories to read to my kindergarten class.. It reminds me of our house at Thanksgiving.. but it is my favorite to read at this time of the year for the children will be leaving soon for their own vacations... This post brought a smile to my face.