COLUMN: All in the family — summertime reunions

Family gatherings a mix of delight and aggravation

Burgers on the barbecue, bowls of freshly washed cherries, flip-flops flung off carelessly by the door and long afternoons reading at the beach. Sounds like the ultimate Okanagan summer.

Oh, what’s that? Mountains of sheets to wash, more than the usual number of cranky kids to feed at the end of the day, air mattresses that deflate in the middle of the night and countless outings to plan…. If you live in the Okanagan, you’ll recognize this scenario as well.

The delight and aggravation of company.

The upside of this conundrum is that for many of us, that company will also be family that we haven’t seen for a while.

Summer provides us with the opportunity to connect and catch up with loved ones, let the cousins stand back-to-back to compare growth spurts, enjoy a lovely bottle of Okanagan wine while remembering old times and creating new ones.

For some of us with family spread out all across the province, country or world, those summertime visits are special.

Families however, are strange and funny beasts.

As much as we love each other, there can be times when family history creeps into conversations and stirs up bits of the past we’d rather leave buried!

As the old saying goes: “You can choose your friends but not your family”.

Much as we’d sometimes like to, you can’t trade the wacky Auntie that seems to come up with the most inappropriate comment during dinner.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about successfully hosting visitors. I’ve even developed a few rules:

1. Guests staying longer than three days bring groceries.

2. Guests strip their own beds and cart the laundry to the washer.

3. Guests are encouraged to spend some part of every day outside.

4. Offers to help cook are gratefully accepted.

This may seem a bit like boot camp but even the host should have a chance to visit!

Each year, the library holds the Summer Reading Club for kids.

This year, we decided it was high time to hold a Summer Reading Club for adults. In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, we got together and listed 150 titles all read and recommended by library staff.

Each week we display 15 to 20 titles loosely grouped by genre.

This week, the theme is “We are Family – Family Sagas and Tearjerkers.”

Some of the books I’ve really enjoyed in this category are: The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin; Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonsson; In the Fabled East, by Okanagan author Adam Lewis Schroeder and the Governor General’s award winner Ru, by Kim Thuy.

Each of these books will draw you in to a complex family story and you won’t want to stop reading! Come check out the Fav 150 Staff Picks list available at the library.

Tell us what you think about any of the books on the list and your name will be entered in the prize draw. Awards and coffee morning will be Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10:30 a.m.

Sue Kline is the Community Librarian at the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.