I have only been to Canada a few times and the first two times were for basketball tournaments in high school…so I pretty much saw the inside of some gyms. The only other time (before this summer) was when Ben and I spent a few days with good friends at their family’s summer house in Comox on Vancouver Island. It was gorgeous and incredibly fun so I’ll technically call that my first real Canadian trip.
My second – and quintessential, in my eyes, due to the road trip nature of the weekend – Canadian adventure took place this summer when we drove up to Edmonton, Alberta for a family reunion for Ben’s mom’s family. Most of Ben’s mom’s family lives up in the Edmonton area plus they had the most places to stay so that’s why we headed up there. Us Zupkes were the only ones who came up from the States because everyone else lives in British Columbia. When they told me [ahead of time] that they’d have a trailer for us to stay in, I was extremely skeptical. Uh, ok, I’d love to stay in a trailer for the weekend, I thought. It was AWESOME. Apparently everyone in Alberta has a 5th wheeler/RV so these were really nice. They lined up 4 of them in a row so every family who didn’t have a room of their own in someone’s house could have their own trailer. They thought of everything too…our bed was made when we got there (at 1 am Saturday morning after leaving Wenatchee at 8 am Friday morning), they had a pack and play ready for Serafina, and a place for Maya to spend the night. While the drive was a bit trying seeing as we were in the car 14 hours each way (and we did each direction in a day a piece), the time with the Grycan’s was a blast. We were only going to stay for Saturday and then drive back Sunday but thankfully Ben decided we should stay an extra day and drive home Monday.
I hadn’t met many of them seeing as most of them live quite far away. We spent the weekend playing cards (more on that below), eatin’ good food (recipe below!), and swapping stories (I did the listening) about Ben’s grandparents (since passed) as well as of shenanigans pulled off by Ben’s aunts, uncles, and cousins. His family was so kind, relaxed, and fun that the time passed way too quickly. It was especially fun because Serafina has lots of cousins she’s now met, including one who is a few months younger than her.
Before I get too long-winded and you stop reading, I want to tell you about one of the coolest traditions shared at this reunion. At a family reunion several years ago, Ben’s aunts and uncles decided that hats would be a fun way to celebrate the family so they ordered 50 hats with the Grycan family crest (a tree) embroidered on the front and a white maple leaf on one side. Whenever a new member formally joins the Grycan family – by marriage or birth – they embroider the next number on the other side of the cap. Ben’s grandparents are 1 and 2, Ben’s uncles, aunt, and mom are 3-6, and their spouses/kiddos thereafter in the order they joined. I am number 35 and Serafina is number 38, both of which we received at the reunion!* Below are a few pictures showing the family hats: Serafina getting her’s from Uncle Gary, the Zupke portion of the Grycan family (minus Ben’s dad and sister Steph who couldn’t make it to Edmonton), and all the Grycans.
Ben’s cousin Amber did some interviews with everyone to compile a family history to go with others that have been recorded at previous family reunions. While it was fun to tell our story, it was much more enjoyable to soak up the stories told about the people that make up the family God let me marry into. And these Canadians are fun to boot! 🙂 Speaking of a word that sounds like how they say “about,” I’ve never heard so many enjoyable accents in my life. It’s like a whole ‘nother language!
As for playing cards…
…this is a picture of Ben and I takin’ his uncles to town in more than one game of crib. Anything Uncle Gary threw down I had an answer for. You want to lead with a 4 so I can’t get 15? I’ll play another 4 and peg 2 for the pair. It was so bad it was good…in our favor. And don’t get me started on the cheating going on by Uncle Randy…now I know where Ben’s gets his sly side from.
And the food…so delicious. Ben’s Aunt Kathy and cousin Cori planned and shopped for everything and then we rotated through the preparation and clean up. The recipe of the weekend was…
Tacos in a bag: make all the fixin’s for tacos – ground beef, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes/lettuce, etc – and pile it into a personal size bag of Doritos. Oh. My. Goodness. And then you get to throw away the bag and you’re done cleaning up. So awesome.
We also did many other fun things, which I’ll let be told via pictures. Honestly, I don’t even know what else to tell without chronicling the entire weekend (these were a few things I could pull out without telling everything!). For instance, there aren’t any pictures of our mini-trek around the property or of the long conversations had around the fire pit late into the night. But here’s a start…
Playin’ kickball – this is only part of the 40 acres they own…
Hanging out with cousin Maxine and Uncle Dave and Aunt Carmen (or Daveski and Carmi if you’re Auntie Karen 🙂 )
Uncle Randy used to be a long haul trucker and he is also an amazing artist – these are some of his drawings.
She’s officially Canadian now, right? Drinkin’ a Kokanee? 😉
This was the place to be…
And a jam session. They’re both REALLY good.
I can’t wait for the next reunion!
*Ben’s Uncle Gary actually had my hat ready at our wedding but I was so uptight (trust me, I’ve relaxed) that people actually took my request to have no surprises seriously.