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to help you understand the genetic stock I come from…

August 8, 2004

we had a van Staveren family reunion today. Three of the eleven branches of the family were represented, but the small turnout (20 or 30?) didn’t stop the insanity.
We had my cousing Greg goading his three year old son Jacob into brining him a beer in the middle of a volleyball game. Now remember, Dad’s side is where I get my height from: except for two players (marryins, not blood relatiosn) the whole game was over six feet tall. Jacob is like…two feet. Or something like that. Rather brave of the kid. And I love the morals he got taught today…
We had cousing Gary joining the volleyball game after five or six beers, and playing better than the rest of his team in spite of it. Or perhaps because of it.
Then he and his brother Bobby were egging each other on during the game, daring each other to drink more, spike the ball more, stink more, etc…
A hose marked the edge of the court, and that moved a lot as the games progressed…
The sun and the tree were like handicaps: if the ball was served high enough on one side, the sun was in the other teams eyes, and they couldn’t hit it. If the ball was hit wrong on the other side, the tree totally ruined the serve.
Parents played with small children in hand, the 20-something guys (age, not number) often played with beer in hand. Drink breaks were beer breaks for about 2/3 of the players.
Oh yes, and we can’t forget the first game: a true van Staveren type. We played with only our feet. I honestly don’t know if Dutchies are bigger soccer or cycling fans… But we had to bring out the Dutch in all of us and kick the volleyball around for a while, before moving on to a slightly easier game.

And that was just one part of the day. The other really stupid part was Uncle Lowie’s bridge. Right now, it’s just some welded together rusty steel girders placed over a creek. And a great game for members of my family. It shakes when you get about 1/3 of the way across, no matter how smoothly you walk, and it’s about a five feet drop to water, weeds, and mud below. SO of course we had to play on it. First it was tentative walks across, one at a time. Then one would get halfway across and someone else would get on and shake it. Then the beer and the older cousins came out, and the races started. Greg once made it across in six seconds. It’d take a good ten to cross that distance walking on level ground. Matt and I raced. Greg and Chris raced (older cousins, brothers, about 30 and 24 respectively). We’d get four or five people on there and shake it to see who would fall off first. Actually, only Matt and Chris hit the dirt. Luckily. The older boys kept crossing with beer in hand, and all three of them (Bobby being the third) had had quite a few during the day. The wives and mothers gave up watching really quickly ’cause it was too scary to watch.
Now let me tell you what it means to be a van Staveren wife. (Between the fact that the guys are more rambunctous, and there are more of them, the wives end up having this type of role more often.) You give up on your husband ever acting sane around his relatives. You understand that everything is a competition. You bring ice, bandages, and beer (usually Heinakin, pardon my spelling, ’cause apparently that’s waht real Dutchmen drink) to family outings. You take care of the fussing kids and share horror stories of your husband and children hurting themselves with teh other wives. Pretty much, you give up on your husband for the duration of a family outing, and know that you’re only needed when someone gets hurt. Wonderful, forgiving women, with crazed husbands.
Seriously, though, if you’d see us today out on the bridge or playing volleyball or one of the thousand other scenes, you’d understand me a lot better, and be running for a video camera for America’s Funniest Home Videos. Gotta love family.
I have to say, we’re all crazy, and anyone that loves us has to be crazy as well.

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