It’s a Labor Day tradition for my in-laws to host a great big family reunion for Labor Day weekend, culminating in a rocking party on Sunday night.
It’s also a tradition for Ben and I to sit and debrief/savor/try to prolong the good feelings the party brings by talking about it for hours afterwards. Monday we were too tired/hungover. But Tuesday night, we settled in and rehashed all the things about the party. And then we did it again tonight. The best songs, the funniest moments, the crazy costumes, the hilarious dance moves, the surprise performances. . . All. of. it.
This post has taken several days to write, mostly because I had to sort through over 1500 photos first. But also because it is nearly impossible to put into words what the Labor Day Party is like. I am fully aware that nothing that I write here, even with the addition of lots of photos, will come close to describing the true nature of The Party. It truly defies description.
But. You know I’m going to try anyway. Ben and I decided that this year’s party was one of the best. Here are a few of the highlights of the weekend and the party:
Pre-Sunday Night Party – My brother-in-law brought fireworks for Saturday night. The kids loved them (so did the grownups).
And though it seems like a small thing, it’s the little additions like this, and the thoughtfulness of all the family members to bring their best, to add something to the party in tangible and intangible ways, that make the weekend magical.
And I don’t use that word lightly. Really, it’s like magic. As if a little party fairy comes and puts a spell on all of these regular, hard-working grown ups, and turns us into (in some cases back into) party animals, and creates this place where, for a weekend, and more intensely for about five hours on Sunday evening, there is no limit to the fun that this family can have together, laughing, singing, dancing, and whatever else moves us.
Too much? Right. Obviously there’s no party fairy. But there is this fun-loving, slightly nutty group of people that I married into, who really just know how to have fun and aren’t self-conscious or uptight. So, basically the same thing.
So. Sunday night. The costumes. The theme was “Cartoons.”
Snow White ^^ was a brand new attendee this year (the only first-timer besides some tiny babies). He not only came up with the idea for this group costume, but he made his own dress and the dwarf’s hats and pick axes. Notice that he even included the red insets in his sleeves. Talk about bringing something a little extra. I think he had fun and wasn’t totally freaked out, even though he isn’t related to anyone else who was there, and was exposed to moments like these:
He’s just one of the family now.
I think the dancing and the singing and the wild and crazy and fun hit a new level this year. I’ll let a few photos illustrate this point:
A lot of the increase in wild and crazy seems to have been due to this interesting little creation, dreamed up by my husband and made into reality by my brothers-in-law:
It really ought to have been called the Wheel of You’re-Going-to-Feel-Like-Death-Tomorrow, but it did add a lot of oomph to the antics. When I Instagrammed a photo of my hangover-cure fountain Dr. Pepper on Monday, with the hashtag #thebartendermademedoshots, I wasn’t kidding.
Nearly every time I went to the bar to get a beer, he’d give me a diabolical look and reach to spin the wheel. No matter what it landed on, he’d turn it to “Shot.” I would then proceed to drink my shot like a good little partygoer, and then I’d say, “Okay, now can I have my beer?” Ahem. I was a bit rough around the edges on Monday morning, as were the rest of the partiers. Including the bartender.
So anyway, things got pretty crazy. People were getting drunky-drunk. The bartender (my brother-in-law) got the party going. There was a lot of rapping, which is always interesting in a group full of folks originating from Iowa farm country.
There was some good old 1978 Rapper’s Delight:
There was even a spontaneous “Ice Ice Baby” rap battle between my husband’s old high school buddy,
and the youngsters, my husband’s godson and nephew (I believe they called themselves Dollar $ign and MC Juan, respectively):
I think I can safely use the word Epic here.
You may be surprised, considering the place was full of Iowa natives, to know that all of the rapping was actually quite good. Skillful. Well-timed. Full of flair. In fact, it was only the girl from Detroit (AKA me) who probably didn’t do such a bang-up job on the song I rapped (Fancy by Iggy Azalea). In my defense, I had never even heard of the song until about a month before the party. And I was a little, ah, dizzy from the Wheel of Death. If you know what I’m saying.
But who cares? I rapped.
My husband and I agreed that one of the best moments of the night, which was completely spontaneous and hilarious, was when the band inserted a Biz Markie sing-along into a Toby Keith song, out. of. the. blue. Just a Friend into Red Solo Cup, if you can imagine that. It was bizarre, but it worked, and the crowd loved it and fully sang along, at top volume, while laughing and dancing maniacally.
You can’t make this stuff up, people.
There was talent, both young and old.
^^ My seven-year-old nephew playing the kazoo, alongside his dad.
^^ If you’ve been paying attention, that’s the third instrument he played that night.
I could go on and on. I already have, I know. But one last thing:
The best part about the night, was seeing my girls really get into it, even more than in years past.
^^ Hokey Pokey
They danced and played and had so much fun. They’re still talking about it and about the relationships they strengthened with cousins and aunts and uncles. They are still asking me to play “Sweet Dreams” (Eurythmics), over and over and reminiscing that it was their favorite song of the night.
The party is an amazing thing. It’s wild, and it’s incredible fun.
But at the end of the night, it’s still really just all about family.