Our luxurious and well appointed Victorian B&B came complete with a real family sized kitchen and an immense, gracious dining room where we all agreed it would be fun to host a family dinner, complete with tales of days gone by, delicious food and evening of old fashioned storytelling and general hilarity.
To capture (and perhaps to heighten) the effect, I set up the tripod, aimed the camera mid table and held the automatic shutter trigger discreetly in hand so I could “fire at will” and hopefully capture some of the spontaneous reactions I just knew would erupt as the wine bottles dwindled and the conversations revved up. I was assuming a lot as this was a crew of hardened and life experiences Norwegians, a sect not normally know for their propensity for ribald humor or even jocularity in general.
Andy (at the head of table) and Claire had done a masterful job of shopping and cooking and preparing a repast fit for, well, Vikings. A simple toast and the First Family Meal in 50 years was off and running! Hopefully the hams that are the Fillners would forget the camera was there after a couple glasses and be more spontaneous. <g>
Claire, holding the Napkin of Truth, commands the floor.
But it was Cousin Mark, straight-faced and in mid story-telling mode that caused the real melt down that occurred later. His recounting of an never before heard family tale (and one that will only, ever, be known amongst the attendees) caused tears to be shed, food to be spit and was, without question, the best story of the entire reunion….and there were many. It was the kind of “Oh my God I’m going to start a laughing fit in church and need to leave the room NOW”…..laughter that we’ve all had a time or two but this time we all had it at the SAME time. Thank you, Mark!
The most remarkable thing about Cuzinpalooza though, and this night in particular, was looking around the room and seeing yourself reflected back in the faces of the rest of your family. And more than that, seeing all those who had come before us. As I edited and searched the hundreds of photographs it was even more apparent to me. In this photo of Marty, I see the woman our grandmother Clara once was so clearly!
I see out parent’s laughter and Norskie postures in Andy and Mary Jo.
And most of all, I see me….the Ultimate Viking I once was and the aging mash-up that I now am, but from a more loving and forgiving place.