I have a favorite weekend every year. It involves anywhere from 13 to 16 women in my family, piling up together, to stay up late, eat ourselves out of house and home, laugh ourselves silly, tell ghost stories, cry, eat some more, play games, make crafts, and love on each other. It's the "Niece Reunion." 'Cause we all get together, 21 years later, because Aunt Vivian started it all, this little reunion at her house, because she wanted her nieces around her to love. Aunt Vivian (or "Vudda") is gone now, but we still get together every year, because that's what she'd want, and we do it up right, themes and all, just like always!
You can read about the last few here and here.
My Mimi had 9 siblings....Aunt Vivian was one of them. Here are all the girls. You can tell we're girly girls in our family, we have reunions just to honor them! If you were one of my college roommates, you probably remember this little jig....hold on to your britches....."Eutora, Nettie, Vivian, Bid Bud, Lil' Bud, Lawrence, Millie, Mae, and Maaaary!" Ok, so not so much a song...but there's a tune. I just typed to it. It helps us remember everyone...anyway....it's better in person. You'd just die.
So, there's the history. Now for the weekend. Our theme this weekend was "Camp Vudda." Love it. Mama, Aunt Nancy and I pulled into Selma (where cousin Betty Carol lives, and our host for the weekend) up to a beautiful river house on the AL River. She had a tent set up (for looks only!) name tags and camp snacks waiting on us!
Friday night when everyone arrived we chowed down on delicious chicken off the grill, and started the first of many crafts....because we're at camp of course!
Saturday we took a little field trip to what we've always called "The Country." It's where Mimi and her sisters and brothers were raised, in Sweetwater, AL. We visited the graves of our great-grandparents first, and saw many other family members in this quaint country cemetery. Mimi was only 3 when her mother died, but Aunt Vivian and the others remember her. I can't imagine how much Mimi must hold on to the few memories she has.
Next we went to the land where their home stood. It's since been torn down, but the property is still in the Luker family. The original bricks to the home are still there, and we all placed our Luker feet where FIVE generations of Luker women have walked. Amazing, right?
Here's where the house was, overlooking this beautiful hillside. We're smiling for you, Mimi, and Aunt Vivian, Aunt Hattie (Eutora), Aunt Nettie, Aunt Mae, Aunt Mildred. Okay....and Big Bud, Lil' Bud, and Lawrence too! This is a lotta Luker love!
Speaking of love....how pretty is my sister? She busted out her gee-tar during craft-mania on the porch and led us in old southern gospels that sent chills down my spine. (There may or may not have been a little Jimmy Buffett slipped in there too.....)
That was a sidebar...we're still in "the country" folks.... So after cemetry and seeing the house (kinda), we stopped at Ezells for lunch. Ever had it? I think everyone 80 and above loves this place. In Sweetwater, at least. It's all about catfish here. Anyway, we dined by the Tombigbee, listened to stories our mothers tell that their mothers told them of "the country", and took one more photo opp before our last stop....
Which was Sweetwater High. Who coincidently are State Champs this year in their Division (1A of course). But Go Bulldogs! Most of the buildings have been replaced or renovated, but word on the street is the auditorium is original to when Mimi and her seesters attended.
Jessie, Rachael and I felt led (or more accurately we were forced by our mothers) to lead the crowd in the orginal, the REAL, Sweetwater High cheer. This is the one our grandmothers have been telling us for years. Mimi's voice rings in my ears, so does Aunt Vivian's chanting this! So here ya go....again, hold on to your seats....
"Peas, Beans, Okry, Squash!! Sweetwater, Sweetwater! YES, by Gosh!!"
Back on the ranch later that night, we were given the most awesome t-shirts to remember this special weekend by! And things, as always, get a little out of hand.....
Sweet Ellie modeled the back for me.
As always, there's a lot of love going around!
And lots of cuddlin' too!
Sunday came way too soon, and we slowly packed up and hugged everyone goodbye. I love these women with all my heart. Each one has had a special hand in raising me, and as crazy as we all are, I am so blessed to call them my family.
The first generation from Aunt Vivian's sisters and brothers. (We missed you Andrea!)
And their babies: the 2nd generation. There's more, but no boys allowed! :) (We missed you Allison and Nicole! )
And now....a 3rd generation!!
Together we are one big, loud, crazy family. Who I wouldn't trade for the world!
ESPECIALLY these three!!
Next year's host will be Jessie....destination: Fairhope!! I cannot wait to see what she has in store! We love you Aunt Vivian, and the bond you've created in our family that gets stronger with each reunion!