Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Family Reunion and A Chivaree

Reunion - 

Our family holds a huge reunion every Memorial day down in Somerset, Kentucky, and when I say huge I do mean huge.  About two hundred are in attendance of those two hundred I know probably thirty. But it does give me lots of character to write about, which for a writer is absolute heaven.

Two wagons are brought in with food spread out, of various casseroles and fried chicken. An open mike is set up for all the real bluegrass music. Lawn chairs are opened; people reconnect, life events are shared.

Now, I haven't been to this family reunion for about twenty years, I stayed away, I couldn't for the life of me remember why until...


I'm sitting there with my best southern accent, I only pull out for these occasions, or the occasional speeding ticket.  No kidding, it works, but that's another story. Out comes two bags of ice and a washtub.  Oh great...

"It's Chivaree time," my cousin Dana said.  

Chivaree - A tradition that our family took and slightly changed. It used to happen on the honeymoon night.  All the relatives would surround the newlywed's home, banging pots, and cheering. The crowd would persuade the couple to come out. Once they did, the husband would  ride an oiled knotty pine log hosted high in the air by the men, while the wife was placed in a wash bucket with ice water. They crowd would run them around the house three times. Only then would the relatives leave.

Of course our family put away the tradition on the honeymoon. They changed it; the event now occurs when you attend the family reunion, no matter how long the time has passed you are required to be chivareed.  I had forgotten all about it.

One of the women I don't know stood up and produces a list. I slink into the shadows. Surely they wouldn't remember I haven't been there since I got married twenty-five years ago.  Two couples are brought forward, people I didn't recognize.  Good they still haven't seen me.

I see my husband, Jeff, talking to my aunt. He's never met a stranger, and he can never tell a lie.  It's loud, but somehow I can hear him.

"What are they doing?" he asked Aunt Joyce.
No, please no... I can't get to him fast enough.
I raced forward.
"What's that?" Jeff watched as a log is produced.
I swooped in. "Hi honey, I need something from the car."
"Can it wait, I want to watch this," he said.
Cousin Dana, who had followed me over asked, "Wait, you haven't been Chivareed yet have you?"
Jeff began to speak, but, I interrupted him with a wave of my hands, "I really need my purse can you go get it."
"Sure," he said.  God love that man!
Dana turned to me, "Were you Chivareed?"
Okay, Sonia, dive in deep to that southern charm. "Oh yes, we were.  The water was so cold, and Jeff 'bout hit his head on the rafters," I smiled, reflecting on the fake event.
"Really? I don't remember it."
"I don't think you were here that year. It was so long ago." I said.
"Hmm, must have been one of the years I missed." She watched as a woman in jean shorts sat in the tub of ice.
At the same time six big strapping men lifted up the log with the 'groom' on it and ran through the shelter bouncing him all over the place. My husband returned after the log was put away and the ice was emptied. The relatives had moved on to the open mike as my brother sang some Johnny Cash.

We never did get Chivareed that year. Hopefully none of my relatives will read this, if they do, I might be in trouble the next year I attend.