musings on travel, international living, development aid, politics, turkey (the country more than the meat) and anything else that comes to mind...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Very Merry 'Vest'mas...

...otherwise known as 'Erol Meets the Future In-Laws'. All of them. The full Vest clan. In rare form.

Lauren’s mother (maiden/code name Vest) has one sister and three brothers, all of whom have children and planned to be at a rented Texas beach house at one point or another in between Christmas and New Years. There were also the ‘plus ones’ (of which I am a member) helping bring the total participation to somewhere around thirty. I tried to do a physical count at one time but failed. Ever try to count ants hovering around something sugary?

Our stilted home away from home was in Surfside Beach, a corner of Texas somewhere between Galveston and nowhere. It’s a place for massive refineries in view of offshore platforms burning hundred meter flames high into the night sky. It’s a place for hurricanes eager to wreak havoc. It’s a place for washed-up hippie dudes who find Jesus and own a surf shop. And, for one week, it’s a place for the Vests.

A little apprehension goes a long way towards managing expectations. I was slightly worried about being bored or voicing some of those thoughts that are best left in one’s head (you know what I’m talking about). I had been told to prepare for practical jokes, contentious politics, philosophizing, and perhaps even a few relatives wondering “who is this random Turkish guy that stole a cousin away?”

Thankfully for me, Lauren hasn’t brought many of her significant others home in the past and I don’t have any facial tattoos… though I do have an unpronounceable last name. This was going to be tough.

Turns out my apprehension was as ill-founded as it was helpful in my expectation-setting mental process. Not only did the Vest clan embrace me with open arms, I immediately felt at home in the Monet-like (‘good from far but far from good’) rental, chatting up this aunt or that cousin or that uncle as if I’d known them for years.

There were the occasional dalliances into politics. There was so much talk about baseball I felt like I needed a hotdog. There were Texas accents that couldn’t have been real… except they were real. There was the pursuit of a better joke or jab, a constant game of one-uppance I repeatedly lost.

And of course there was the irony-filled two-hour debate on who should be considered the most competitive person in the family. Epic.

But above all there was singing, dancing, and laughter. They’ve been through tragedy and celebration. They’ve rejoiced and wept. They’ve gone away and come home. But they’ve always done it together. As a family.

If you’re looking for a recipe for a successful family reunion-style vacation, look no further than the Vests: a strong, loving and unconditionally awesome family I can now call my own.

And while you’re looking, you might even be lucky enough to witness a cousin vs. cousin dance-off...!