This is a true story, with names changed to protect my family!
It was time to meet all the cousins and uncles and aunts that belonged to his new wife. Bob had his own cousins and uncles and aunts, but they had scattered across the Midwest, from South Dakota to Texas. When he was a kid, his family would visit the farm where his grandparents lived. But at most, he’d only meet an uncle and a cousin there.
Now they were going to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving dinner with his wife’s family, and dessert at another house, where he would meet every single one of her relatives.
“We call it the Pie Pahty,” said his wife. She didn’t have a Massachusetts accent, although she’d grown up there, but she loved to put it on now and then. He wondered how long he’d consider that charming.
She explained that her father was one of eight kids, all of whom had stayed in the town where they were born, and had kids of their own. “Too many to fit in one house for Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. “So the oldest, Aunt Elma, decided to host the Pie Pahty.”
She also insisted that it was Aunt Elma, not Ant Elma.
She made a mince pie for the occasion. He loved pie, so he figured that anything called a pie party couldn’t be too bad.
When they arrived, the big old-fashioned kitchen was full of people. So was the dining room, where his wife deposited her pie on a table that held dozens of other pies, and the living room, where older people sat around plying forks.
“All these people are related to you?”
“Eight uncles and aunts, twenty-one cousins and their spouses and children,” she said. “But I don’t really know my cousins’ grandchildren.” Those would be the kids running around underfoot, or the ones glued to their cell phones.
She introduced him to every single person. They were delighted to meet him. Or, in true New England fashion, they just said Hello. All of them sounded like his wife did when she imitated the accent. He lost track of names after the first fifteen people.
A cousin showed off his newly created family tree. He said the family went all the way back to the Mayflower.
“We didn’t make it to the Mayflower, Cleon,” someone yelled. “We were swimming behind it!”
Cleon laughed, but kept showing his family tree to anyone who would listen. And Bob’s wife was deep in conversation with two women about her own age.
So he escaped to the kitchen with a third piece of pie, and sat down at the old pine table to eat it. The crowd had moved out of the kitchen. Aunt Elma was trotting back and forth with cups and plates, with the help of a couple of aunts or cousins he had met but couldn’t name. Two older cousins leaned on the counter arguing about the Red Sox. Bob basked in the quiet.
He’d finished his pie, and was drinking coffee, when his wife came to find him. “We’re ready to leave,” she said. “Dad’s getting our coats.”
“You know,” he said. “I missed an opportunity. I should have introduced myself as a long-lost cousin. From the Mayflower. They would have believed me.”