Saturday, August 18, 2012


"You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family...."

Truer words were never spoken. And the more extended the family, the weirder those family dynamics get.

We have one branch of our family on my mother's side (I won't even get started on my father's side of the family) that is ... a little ... strange. Sweet people, for the most part, but just strange.

I realize I'm using my own personal set of values to describe them as weird, and they might say I'm just as weird. Or they may not recognize weird when they see it, or they might just be nicer people than I am and say there's nothing at all wrong with me.

My cousin's husband, however, can only be described as a boor. He's uncouth, often unclean, rude, obnoxious, opinionated (aren't we all?), and outspoken. As in not a good way.

Apparently there have been some more serious behaviors at the family reunion, and although I was only made aware of them THIS year, it appears the behaviors manifested themselves at last year's reunion also. Some of his rudeness was directed toward his own sister-in-law (his wife's sister, also my first cousin), and to be honest I don't have information as to how offended she was or if other people were more offended on her behalf. But I do have it on good authority that when it was time to assign cottages for this year's reunion, she expressed a desire NOT to be housed with her sister and her husband. But that's exactly where she wound up.

To make a long story short (and I'm not sure why I'm telling it here anyway), after this year's reunion, the "Elders" (that would be my mother and her siblings) got together and decided this boor would no longer be welcome at the family reunion.

Ouch. That's harsh. Even for a boor. Because by extension, you wind up excluding some people who are blood relatives. I mean, I can't imagine my cousin coming to the reunion without her husband. And they come every year, no matter the location. And they provide breakfast for the whole clan both mornings of the weekend. (No, it's not the loss of the breakfasts I'm lamenting, really.)

It might have been enough to inform them (him?) that he wouldn't be welcome at the reunion. But the letter (more on that in a moment) also said that if he DID show up (really, would anyone show up under those circumstances?), the sheriff would be called.

That might have been going too far. And the author of the letter was my aunt's husband, ALSO not a blood relative. (I might be inclined to call him an uncle, but they haven't been married too many years. It's complicated.) I'm not sure he had the "authority" to write the letter. Or really if anyone had the authority.

My sister and my cousin both used the exact same phrase to describe this situation, and that was "slippery slope."

I never understood fully what that meant, but now I think I do.

I'm not here to make excuses for a boor, and I'm not going to defend his right to be at a reunion where his behavior has been unacceptable. (The source of my information was reluctant to tell me the specifics, and I didn't press for details.)

But if we start letting some people (even if they ARE the elders) decide who comes to the family reunion and who doesn't, what are we setting ourselves up for? What crosses the line of what is acceptable and what isn't? Who decides?

Couldn't someone decide I'm not welcome at the reunion if I'm going to bring my dog? (We do have those who aren't very fond of animals, namely my own mother.)
Couldn't someone ask the smokers to stay away?
If someone doesn't accept the partners of gay family members, could THEY be asked not to come?
What if someone dresses inappropriately - banned from the reunion?
Misbehaving children?
Drug users?
South Carolina Gamecock fans?
Florida Gator fans? (Oh never mind, we don't have any of those.)

I think you get my point.

Naturally there has already been a backlash, as the brother of the cousin in question has said he will attend no more reunions and has asked to be removed from the mailing list. That means almost an entire branch of the family won't be there, and while it has never been expected that EVERYONE would come, I think their absence will be awkward.

And I think some people's PRESENCE will be awkward. I almost feel that I shouldn't go, because I don't want it to look like I condone "kicking" some people out of the family. But not going to the reunion might appear to show support for the boor who has been asked not to come, and I don't want it to look like I'm in his corner.

I really, really wish there weren't corners at all in this unfathomable mess of a situation.

Meanwhile, Hubby is trying to come up with something he can do to get barred from the family reunion.

Families. Ugh.

No comments: