's a family party...


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It’s that time of year.  Communion Parties are in full swing.  Attendance to these soirees is almost a prerequisite to the mother of all parties; the graduation extravaganzas come June.  Seems like last year there weren’t enough weekends to accomodate the fast-paced grad party schedule.  This year we were blessed early with the first Communion party in late April.

And, so, the Family McGrumps headed south to the family party I’ve been dreading since we received the invite a few weeks ago.  Like most family parties, there is tension.  Today’s could not have even been cut with a ginsu.  I’m not even sure a chainsaw could have gotten the job done.

The sulking boy and his very pissed off brother Quincy sat in the backseat seething the entire ride to Mokena.  They were hardly in the party mood.  Today was opening day/picture day for Spring Baseball.  Sadly, only one was photographed, while one opted for driver’s ed class in lieu of having his mug preserved in the OYA Yearbook for the 2010 Colt Twins.

Like I said before, today was the day umpires around town would shout PLAY BALL as sparkling clean uniformed clad boys would take to the well manicured fields along Fun Drive…and, believe me,  I prayed all last night for rain…thunder…hell, I’d have welcomed a typhoon.  The sulking one had a double header; the pissed off one…a later than normal game due to pictures at the usual start time.  Unfortunately for both, we had a family Communion Party.

We are proud lifetime members of the “there-is-never-an-excuse-to-miss-a-game” club.  Since the kids were old enough to sign up for the town’s baseball league we’ve instilled in them the need to always be present for the game.  Even if your position was keeping the bench warm for the stars on the field.  There is no I in team…never let your coach or teamates down.  And, until today, we’ve followed this rule to a tee.

Any guess who is also a charter member of the “we-arrive-at-the-party-at-the-exact-start-time-and-stay-until-cake-is-served-then-fly-out-the-front-door-like-a-bad-smell” club?  The grim faced fellow sitting up front with me, Sulking and Pissed Off’s father.

I’ve been aware of the unwritten party rule since I joined the family.  If the invite says party starts at 3:00 your ass had better be there sitting on a couch, preferably in front of a tv set playing whatever the sport is hottest at that time of the year. 

If, for some unknown reason, your ass was not sitting in the soft seats, you’d be promptly reminded of your absence by the tell-tale sign of a ringing telephone…nine out of ten times the voice on the other end would be my mother-in-law finding out where you were and when would you arrive. And the excuse for tardiness had better be a good one.

Now, I’ve tried explaining that just because invite states a 3:00 start time does not mean all guests have to arrive at that time.  I find it best to arrive at staggered time so as not to bog down the hosts on greeting duty.  If ALL guests arrived on the front porch at the same time there would be a backup…I failed in my attempt to delay our arrival an hour or so in order to get at least two of the three games in.  A rule is a rule.  I countered with the “food won’t be served until at least 4:30″…to no avail.

If you happened to pull up next to us at the stop light in the vicinity of 191st and LaGrange Road today and saw the pitiful looks on this car’s passengers you might have concluded that we were headed to a funeral…nope, we were going to this party and we were on schedule to arrive about two minutes ahead of schedule.  Thank God for the red light or we’d have been five minutes early.

We pulled up and surprise…surprise…a spot right in front of the house was available.  Yet another perk of being the first to arrive.  The party was celebrating the communion of our nephew–John’s twin brother’s son and his two cousins…children of the sister-in-law’s sister.  Needless to say we were out numbered by the “others”.  Seven of us vs. the rest.  P.S. there were about eight coolers of beer in the garage…so you can only imagine the ratio.

The only other representatives for “us” were my sister-in-law, her husband, and my mother-in-law.  As we walked in, sister-in-law and husband were sitting on the couch (they explained they had been there since the hour-and-three-minute Mass five minutes away was over)…mother-in-law was in kitchen…at first glance she appeared to be heading for the phone, but at second glance it appeared she was looking out the window.  We took our places on the couch. 

And we sat.  The tv was behind the doors of the entertainment center.  We sat a bit longer…made a bit of small talk…everything I said was translated to my mother-in-law…and vice versa.  At least it added some time to the conversation because it had to last until the food arrived at 4:45.  Did I mention most of the guests arrived about fifteen minutes before Papa Joe’s rang the bell??  This tidbit did not get lost on the two ball players to my left.  Their father on my right remained clueless.

The seven of us ate alone in the dining room.  Quincy brought us some brownies while we waited for coffee.  Once done, suggestion of a cake was brought up.  No one in our party seemed interested in hanging around any longer…we were stuffed.  We said our good byes and were headed out the door by 5:30.

As we pulled out of our prime spot, there was a car full of late-comers delighted at their luck to score such a great parking spot two-and-a-half hours after the official party start.  Smiling kids in the late-arriving SUV exited the backseat wearing baseball uniforms.

Good thing graduation parties start after the playoffs.  We need to re-evaluate our rules and club affiliation.


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