|Hayters during the good ol' times|
Last weekend, the Hayter family met at a restaurant near La Porte to celebrate my kid sister, Jill’s birthday. None of the nieces and nephews showed, because their aunts and uncles are not all that exciting to be around. Age will knock the excitement right out of you.
Restaurants are inconvenient as all get out when it comes to visiting with near-deaf family members. Kay and I showed up late, so we ended up at the far end of the table. I couldn’t hear a thing that Al, Larry, Dennis and Jill were talking about, because it was loud in the place and I was at one end of the table with Kay and two of my sisters-in-law.
I get to talk to Kay a lot, and I always enjoy what she has to say. And, I love my two sister’s in law dearly. However, I would’ve much rather been seated with Jill and my brothers. When you’re the one sibling out of ear-range, the others talk about you. I know because they make head gestures in my direction and then laugh. I’m marginally sure that it’s all good natured.
For the most part, birthdays are for eating, not giving. You’re lucky if you get a card. Jill is the exception, because she’s special. Jill is the chief communicator in the family. She can name all of the nieces and grand nieces and nephews and in-laws from every family. She e-mails everyone a list of monthly special events. You know, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, incarcerations and injuries. Like when Dennis came back from Vietnam and when Dad and Mom and Lynda passed away; it’s all duly noted. I remember stuff related to the immediate family, but the dates sneak up on me. That’s why Jill keeps us up on stuff.
Immediately following Jill’s gift and card openings, we left the restaurant and gathered in the parking lot for about five minutes where the women hugged, and the men pinched and slapped rears. Then we went our own way.
Used to, we’d go to someone’s house and have dessert or play games. That was the young Hayter family. Due to the aging factor, real, all out get-togethers have become too complicated. Trying to organize something with the entire clan can come back and bite you right in the posterior. That didn’t used to be the case. I can prove it, too.
Right next to me is a collection of the Family Newsletter that Jill published for us years ago. She started it in 1988 and ended it in 1999. I’m now looking at the May of ’88 “Our Family Newsletter.” It was the Edition that included an article about how we celebrated Jill’s birthday 28 years ago. It’s a good thing Jill wrote about it, ‘cause I’m drawing a blank on most of this stuff.
We celebrated Jill’s birthday up here in Conroe. It was a surprise party. I told Jill that I was inviting the family up so we could all go to the “NASA Montgomery County Community Project Air Show.” There may have been a real air show at the time, but I doubt it had anything to do with NASA. I apparently threw that in for shock valure.
Kay and I had decorated the house with banners and balloons and all the tedium that screams “Birthday!” We had prepared barbecue brisket and sausage with beans coleslaw, corn on the cob, and rolls. And, Kay made a giant cake. It’s all right here in Jill’s article.
Jill’s favorite part of the party had to do with the National Newspaper Association Awards. The president of the association, William Randolph Piltzner was unable to attend, but he did send Jill a congratulatory note. A nice guy, Piltzner. I was the emcee the ceremony, and read about Jill’s accomplishments and struggles and sacrifices to make “Our Family Newsletter” the Nation’s best.
By the way, Mom won the coveted “Greatest Roving Reporter Award” for her tireless efforts in keeping The Editor of the Year, Jill, apprised of what all was happening with everyone. It was a time when each of us called Elsie practically every day. Jill’s son Jeff won an award for his “Just for Kids” section. And, Larry won the Master Jokester Award. Fortunately, Jill didn’t include the winning joke in her article. You ask me, Larry just got the award, ‘cause he was the oldest brother.
Jill started crying during her acceptance speech, so I had to escort her back to her chair. We carried it out the way James Brown pretended to end his concerts. Someone would put a cape around him and escort him towards the exit, but after a few slow steps, he’d throw off the cape and deliver another song or two.
Yep, there was a bunch of fun stuff involved in Jill’s 35th birthday. Like I said, without the newsletter I wouldn’t have remembered much of it at all.
Our family does get together on occasion, but not with as much frequency and frivolity as we used to. -- Frivolity? --Let’s face it, our emotions and attitudes evolve a bit over the years, and with ‘em some of our relationships.
Had our family ties continued to grow more and more after 1988, we’d pretty much all be living together in a commune by now. It’d end up with two swat teams breaking up a massive fight. I don’t care who you’re living with, nobody wants a swat team. Where’s the frivolity in that?
Let’s face it, change is either visiting you right this minute, or it’s waiting for you to catch up. You might as well embrace it. – Wow. I need to write that one down. – Next time.