Friday, May 9, 2014

Girl Cousins Reunion

Some years ago during a family get-together, the "girl cousins" among us thought it might be nice to get together for an outing. We started a tradition that has lasted for years now. Once a year, in April, one of us hosts the Girl Cousins Reunion. We travel a few hours away to the selected vacation spot, usually in Georgia, and spend a long weekend together. We've rented cabins and spent the weekend talking, laughing, playing board games, feasting, and visiting whatever local attractions are about: in Chickamauga this year, we stayed at an interesting little hideaway called "Hidden Cove." We shopped the historical downtown stores, went fishing, sat by the lake, stopped for a photo op at a pretty church we saw (Historic Cove Methodist Church) and talked till all hours. There's always at least one unexpected surprise and delight during the reunion. This year, Erlanger's LifeForce helicopter touched down just a few feet from our cabin. They had come to do a safety demo for a newlywed couples' retreat. (We were forewarned by a few minutes ~ the retreat owner didn't want us to be worried.) Another time, we got an impromptu glass-blowing demonstration from a professor at Georgia Southern. On previous reunions, we toured the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and got to watch my nephew dive and feed the sharks (he and one of my girl cousins volunteer there). We also got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, hosted by my girl-cousin who works there. We visited World of Coca-Cola, CNN, and the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, where we saw incredible artifacts of past civilizations ~ a wonderful tour! We went down the zip-line at Cohutta Springs Conference Center, did the historic hayride, and enjoyed staying in the chalet. We did a genealogy weekend ~ the cousins got to see the churchyard where our grandparents and great-grandparents are buried, the little cabin where our parents were born. We've visited Callaway Gardens, picnicked everywhere from tables in parks to tailgates in parking lots, and eaten at a multitude of restaurants. In Dalton, we picked a local favorite, the Oakwood Cafe'; near Americus, a sweet little tea shop with hats to try on. Once, our cousin hostesses planned an interesting "seven-course" meal, in which we had to play a guessing game to get our dinner. We've visited Jimmy Carter's birth place in Plains; we've stayed at an old converted log cabin in the Tennessee mountains near Chattanooga. One of the aunts is still living, and is an honorary "cousin" ~ so our Girl Cousin Reunion is multi-generational. The boy cousins are quite jealous! We've also piqued interest in a similar reunion from the other side of our family (though that one has never jelled). During all these years, we've become closer. We've reminisced about the days when we'd stay over at Granny's house; we've talked about the years that went by when some of us lived so far away, visits weren't often enough. We've shared memories about family members who are long gone now. We've really gotten to know our cousins, and they've gotten to know us and their aunt. Quite often in our travels, we meet someone who hears our story, whose face then lights up, and who says, "You know, my cousins would love that!" I would venture to say, we've inspired other families to do the same. My regrets are that we didn't think of this years ago; and that we haven't the time or money to do variations on the theme ~ such as a GCR with our Mother's family; or more get togethers that let the boy cousins meet and reminisce, too. Girl Cousins Reunion: highly recommended! Till next year...

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