It’s not a perfect family portrait, but it’s sure a good one

Categorized as 07/11/11 Goshen News column

For the first time, we were able to introduce the southern siblings to the event they’d heard so much about.  With Mom and Dad Yoder joining us and Mom’s aunt and uncle from Goshen showing up, it was a mini family reunion, cookout, birthday party, and fireworks show all at once.  If I could, I’d sit down with you over coffee and pull out our family photo album.  Maybe pictures would tell the story better than words can.  In one photo, for instance, you’d see a great circle of lawn chairs ringing the fire pit.  Just behind it are two tables, one to hold the food and a picnic table for eating and visiting.  Even the food tells a story.  See that bowl of potato salad?  That’s Mom Schrock’s signature summer dish, and I beg her to bring it every year.  The festive red, white, and blue Jell-O is Katrina’s specialty, and that’s quickly become a tradition, too.  Great-aunt Laura tipped in that crunchy layer salad from my side of the family, and the hot dog bar is courtesy of The Mister and I.  Yes, those are footlongs right there with matching buns.  And yes, it really does take two men to haul one once you load it up with chili and cheese and all that other stuff.  These pictures here show Little and a beaming cousin, both with summer birthdays, and that’s the official family favorite, Hundred Dollar Cake, a chocolate cake so heavy there’s an audible thud when you swallow.  Her mama brought that.  The tall gentleman in this photo, serving up homemade ice cream, is Dad Schrock, and that’s his contribution to the party.  He always puts a can of peanuts alongside it.  Now this one’s funny.  It’s Little’s yellow, battery-powered Hummer darting all over the yard with cousins piled everywhere.  Sure, there are some power struggles and sharing issues, but an adult will untangle that mess just shortly.  See this one?  It looks like a bunch of junior high boys.  It’s not.  It’s the men, the daddies and uncles, fooling around with lighters and blowing stuff up.  Even the grandpas are chuckling, sheepishly slipping fireworks to the fellows out back.  Happens every year.  Over here, these swings?  Always busy.  And that trampoline?  Hopping all night with the toddler set and the bigger kids trading off.  The big tent that’s writhing?  You can’t hear it, but it’s a roiling mass of shrieking cousins.  Someone’s chased them inside.  Those are happy screams splitting the darkness.  I think.  You’ll love this picture.  It’s my parents presiding over the grill.  They’re preparing another Kaboom tradition, fresh-air donuts.  They’re frying them to a golden brown in my cast iron skillet and rolling them in sugar.  As twilight falls, we pass them around, popping them hot from the pan.  (You may want to wipe your chin.  You’re drooling just a bit.) If I could, I’d show you snapshots of our sparkler circle where everyone gets one and we sparkle in unison.  Or one of the cousins playing Kick the Can as fireflies blink in the night air.  Or a lively pursuit with cans of Silly String.  Or a nephew dashing past, watering his sister with a 2-liter bottle.  Or adults talking “life” around the fire.  It may not be a perfect picture, but I’d like to think it’s a pretty good one.  That’s why, Lord willing, we’ll do it all again next year. 

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