There is something so refreshing about leaving Dallas and driving to East Texas. You know you are getting close when the trees gets taller, much taller. Oh how I love to see the Pine trees! Since my husband grew up in a small town, raised animals, drove a tractor and everything else, he longs to be back in the country. He asked me how I would feel about moving to the country several times. My poor husband, he hates living in the city but it's all I have ever known. Another quick hint that you're headed East? The huge signs that say Dairy Queen-21 miles, exit mile marker 34. Matter of fact, there are a lot of Dairy Queens in East Texas. As much as I wanted to enjoy the three hour drive, I couldn't. I don't think there is anything worse than having morning sickness while riding in a car. Jeremy kept saying, "Babe, whatever you want to eat. Just tell me when you see something that sounds good." Finally I settled on something but I can't even tell you what it is right now in fear of throwing up. What sounded good then, doesn't sound good now! I was anxious to get there and anxious to get out of the car so when I saw the Lindale 69 exit that takes you to Tyler, I perked up. Quickly we made it through Tyler, the Rose Capital. If you need a rose bush, this is the place to stop! Roses are everywhere! Then there was Noonday! Fresh fruit and vegetable stands everywhere! Until you have had a Noonday Onion, you haven't really had a GOOD onion! Trust me! I am an onion lover and cook with them a lot so I made sure I got my bag to take home. "Yummo", as Rachel Ray says. And speaking of Rachel Ray I think she needs to take her Tasty Travels show to my family reunion. She would experience food in a whole new way. More on the food later!
Once you get past Noonday, you know Lake Palestine is only a few miles away so I started getting a little excited. I thought back to when I was a kid and how excited my little brother and I would become when we knew we were almost there. And there it was, the bridge that crosses the lake! The sound of the tires crossing the bridge is one that a child never forgets. I still get excited as a thirty year old. Something like, ba bump, ba bump, ba bump, ba bump, ba bump as the cars go over the bridge. There were a few things when I was a kid that got my heart pounding and kept me up all night the night before. Christmas, Six Flags, and The Davis Family Reunion! Finally, we were there!
We unloaded our luggage, and settled in my parent's Fifth Wheel. Then we headed over to the Pavilion, just a few feet away, where all the relatives were. They had already began singing, playing guitars and serving homemade ice cream. Of course I couldn't handle eating ice cream, it sounded gross at the time and it still does. But it may not tomorrow. I found my favorite cousin Cara and we instantly began talking about our current pregnant state that we are both in and how we didn't feel at our best. But soon we sat back, watched family members that we never see and spent a lot of time laughing. She brought her guitar to join the family singing this year that takes place on Friday night but I decided to hit the sack. It's funny that I am singer but I have never sang with my family. Every year I think I'm gonna give it a try but I never do. Maybe next year! Cara stayed and apparently did a great job singing "Grandpa" by the Judds. If only I would have known, I could have done some good back up for her. She was so proud of herself. She told me the next morning that everyone clapped when she was done. Way to go Cara, I wish I would have heard it! Next year we will have to sing some June Carter Cash! But you will have a new baby and I will be a parent of three children so we may be asleep by the time the real singin' gets started. Then again, is there ever real singin' at the Davis Family Reunion?
As fun as this event sounds, I still struggle a little with trying to have fun. All of my first cousins now live in Tennessee and Mississippi so they don't usually come. But when we were kids, my family reigned supreme at the Reunions. We always had a ton of relatives representing our Cecil Davis Sr. side of the family. Now it appears that Melvin Davis and Doyle Davis have the biggest turnout. I miss my cousins. I miss our fights. I miss our walks to the store to get candy before playing family bingo. Do you remember this Chassidy? I miss following my cousin Shawna around every where she went. I miss Jennifer and how we used to swim in the lake while Papa watched us. I miss Brandon, I miss Jeremy, I miss Crystal. I miss my close cousins. The Davis Reunion just isn't the same without them. Maybe someday they will all come back for the famous weekend. Now that would be a Reunion to remember!
Saturday is the day of food and fun. As I sat in the dining area waiting to eat, I realized how many people were missing. Some have passed away, some have just quit coming and some are busy with other obligations. How will we keep this family thing going? Right now it's the parents of my generation that have kept this weekend alive. But will it dwindle? Will my generation be able to keep it up? And this year someone big was missing! Uncle Cecil and Aunt MaryVonne were not able to make it. Their home in Beaumont, Texas was damaged from Hurricane Rita last year so they were busy with contractors. Aunt MaryVonne is my great Aunt. I was never really close to her but my mom always has been. But one thing I know about Aunt MaryVonne is her cooking! I had no idea she would not be there so I was so disappointed when I found out. No Banana Pudding, no Lima beans! And when I am pregnant she takes cares of me, dotes on me! She lets me come over to their motor home while she fixes me a homemade chicken salad sandwich on a croissant! Now that sounds good right now! But not this year. Oh I really missed them this year. Uncle Cecil always prays over the family meal and it's not the same when he doesn't. His prayer makes the food ever better! I will be sad when these older relatives are gone from my life. What a legacy they have with all of us.
At this moment I can't go too much into the food. So far this morning I have only been able to eat Saltine crackers and I have prayed at least twenty times already that I wouldn't throw up. The food this weekend was good but my tray of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and onions had to be the best! All of it fresh from Noonday! Once again, yummo! Oh and hats of to my Mom for the most excellent beans I have ever had. They actually sound pretty good right now! Well, maybe not.
I didn't get involved in Horseshoes or Sand Volleyball this year. I think the only time I did anything outside was when I took pictures of the kids smashing the pinata. Other than that, it was too hot! This allowed me to spend lots of time with my grandmother, Mary Helen. Now do you understand why Ava Beth is Ava Beth? We have a lot of two name names in my family! She told me she had a stack of pictures to give me of all of us on the Farm when we were little. Grannymaw (Mary Helen) and Papa (Walter) had a farm when I was little in San Augustine, Texas. Now, that is East Texas! She sold it after my Papa died but I would give anything to have that Farm back in our family. She also sat and told me what it was like to be the only girl and have five brothers. She assured me that I could handle three kids and more if I wanted. She told me how proud she was of me and what a good mama I was at least ten times. She asked me about my cooking, she knows I love to cook. She told me at least TWENTY times that I have the best husband she's ever seen. "Mandi, do you know what a good husband you have? Most men would never help with those kids like he does. He does it all." I started thinking that maybe she thought how lazy I was and how Jeremy did it all. Well, this weekend he did do a lot for me! She told me that Ava Beth looks just like me. Just about every time she looked at Ava Beth she told me how pretty she was and how she used to have to rock me to sleep when I stayed with her. She told me I was a bad baby. "Mandi, I had to rock you and then hold you or else you would cry. You were a high maintenance baby." My husband said, "Some things never change." And Grannymaw laughed. It was good to hear her laugh. We also found out that my great grandmother who died several years ago has a name we all recognize. Everyone thought that Mammaw Davis' name was Eva Arabelle Davis. But my grannymaw kept telling us that it was Ava. She recently found the birth certificate that proves it, it is Ava. So Ava Beth and Ava Arabelle! Ava Beth has a pretty special name. My Grannymaw can't see very well anymore and she has a hard time getting around due to her health but she can still tell a story like it was yesterday. That made my trip this weekend one I will never forget. I pray that I have her for several more years to come.
The family bingo was a hit and my cousin Cara and I had a few good, new ideas. We thought about making the family stand for the singing of the National Anthem before starting the big game of bingo. Instead Cara thought having them all sing, "There was a farmer who had a dog and bingo was his name oh, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O and BINGO was his name oh." They looked at us like we were stupid but all began singing when we did! Oh and I can't forget the Fish Fry that my husband and I did for everyone. Again, YUMMO! But sounds gross right now so I can't give any details. UGH!
We left Sunday around 11:30am, I felt sick of course. Dairy Queen was the only thing I could think of to eat so I ate half of a burger, no fries. Thankfully, I made it home without getting sick! Not even a dry heave!
The Davis Family Reunion was fun and I made some good memories. Time to get with my Mom, the head of the Reunion, and start planning the second weekend in June for next year. It will be here in a flash!