It's All In The Family

I spent this weekend in Central New York at a family reunion. It gave me a good chance to see family that I hadn't in a while, and visit the old alma mater. It is reassuring to know that my family remains as crazy as ever. And while I won't blather about most of what happened, it is probably standard family reunion craziness, I did learn some interesting things this weekend.

First, when my Great Great Great Grandfather was shopping for a cane he saw fit to purchase the model with a sword hidden in the handle. No one is really sure why he felt that he needed a sword on him at all time, or why the sword needed to be hidden. I choose to believe that he was a crime fighter of some kind, but maybe I am reading too many comic books. This cane was passed on to my father this weekend. Given the current "CRIME EMERGENCY" that we are experiencing in the city, I think it might be a good idea for me to start carrying it around. I would be unstoppable.

Second, my 6 year old cousin knows all of the words to "My Humps" and has even created a dance to accompany her acappela rendition. I guess the question is what would you choose between Barney and The Black Eyed Peas?

Finally, I have joked (well half-joked) in the past about how my wife will not have a say when it comes to first name of our first son. He is going to be named Charles, and there isn't much that she can do about it. The first born male in my family has been named Charles for 5 generations. If she has a problem with this, then maybe we shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. I know this is sexist, and patriarchical, but she can pick the middle name. I think of it as equality, I pick one name and she picks the other, as long as it is not something stupid like James or Allen.

What is weird is that I spent this weekend with a lot of people who really believe in keeping this tradition alive. I mean aside from canes with swords, this is all we really have to pass on. We have factions in my family that haven't talked in over 20 years due to an incident with a cheeseball that went uneaten and, according to the aggrieved party, under-appreciated. If they can be this spiteful over a ball of cheese, literally by the way, I don't know what these people would do to me if I broke the naming tradition. Ordinarily I wouldn't be too concerned, but I also learned that I have a relative who lives in the Adirondack Mountains and makes a living as a trapper. So he has experience tracking and killing things, although on the plus side he claims to have a good recipe for beaver burgers.

I have known this for a while, but I learned this weekend that I am in fact the only Gr/ay male in my generation, including second cousins. So in addition to keeping the naming tradition alive, I actually have to keep the family alive. I actually heard the phrase "it is up to Charles." I already suck enough at meeting people. I really don't need the fate of my family resting on my ability to talk to strangers, much less be charming. I imagine this is how Henry VIII felt, except of course that I don't have Estates, or Titles, or the Crown of England to worry about. There is a Gr/ay New York, but the only thing I know about it is that is has a cemetery.

This is of course, mostly insane. But sanity usually not the first adjective used to describe my family. We even have the medical records and court documents to prove it. On the other hand, I do love my family a lot and I am proud to be counted among them. I know it seems like a very old fashioned idea, maybe you have to be raised in my family to understand it, and I clearly can't really explain it. I just think it would be sad if the Gr/ay family died out.

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