The Harker Reunion

If you are a relative of the Harker persuasion who lurks on this blog, please take no offense at the following post. It is all meant in good fun.

My paternal grandmother is the oldest of 13 children. That makes for a pretty large family. I think that in most large families, the larger the family gets, the more people tend to branch off and go their own way. Such is not the case with the Harkers. The family has grown and grown and grown, yet still they cling together. Of course, with a group that large, an official gathering can only take place once a year. So every July since the world began, the Harker Reunion has taken place somewhere in the Utah/Idaho wilderness.

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the reunion. It was one of two times each year that we would see the cousins on my dad's side. It was always an adventure to go camping with 300+ obscure relatives. Their zany antics were amusing to say the least. Some of my favorite reunion memories include my cousin going headfirst down the water slide into the pond and losing his swimming suit (it was never found), and my grandma's relentless attempts to get people to eat breakfast cereal that had been expired for at least 5 years.

However, once I reached my teenage years, the reunion became less about forging 3-day friendships with second cousins twice-removed and more about avoiding awkward conversations with well-meaning relatives who don't know me from Eve, but like to pretend they do. My attendance has dropped off even more severely in recent years, so now I only see my cousins once a year at the annual Christmas party. But I'm not too broken up about no longer seeing the more distant cousins since very few of them knew who I was anyway.

With the 2010 Harker reunion on the not-too-distant horizon, I have started receiving emails about it, and have been passing the wonderful news on to Dave - who has only experienced the wonder of the reunion once... for one glorious night. This year's reunion is featuring such sure-to-make-you-cringe activities as a mustache growing contest and some sort of Mexican fiesta theme. Then there is the requisite talent show (which has even included belly dancing in previous years).

But no reunion would be truly complete without the pièce de résistance of the traditional dinner, "Harker Stew." For the unenlightened, Harker Stew is an ill-advised conglomeration, an unnatural hodge-podge of every type of stew, homemade or otherwise, that a Harker might think to contribute, mixed into one luscious pot of beefy goodness. As if beef stew isn't foul enough to begin with... we Harkers make it exponentially worse by creating a concoction that could very well be toxic (my brother once ate a generous serving only to mysteriously retreat into his tent, not to be see again for several hours). Of course, based on the average longevity of the family members, I would say quite the opposite. After all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... or slowly destroys you from the inside-out.


W.C.Camp said...

'Harker Stew' sounds like a good name for a movie! I went to one family reunion and it was enjoyable except for the campfire. One of my distant (let's hope like 'JUPITER' distance from earth)family memebers got a little tipsy and started talking about he and his wife's special 'alone time' proclivities. I cannot relate to you how uncomfortable that HOUR was!!! Now I just tell everyone I have no cousins and was actually HATCHED! Great post. Love you family because they clearly make your blogging FANTASTIC! W.C.C.

Dave said...

I must take partial blame for the severe attendance drop off in recent years. I really struggle with the "making small talk with 300+ obscure relatives in the wilderness" thing.