A Little Background:
I have giant extended families on both sides, so even though I am technically an only child, I grew up surrounded by people. My father is also an only child, but his side is so close that I have spent plenty of time with third and even fourth cousins. They are all wonderful people and I've stayed in touch with them as much as possible despite my busy life.
My mother came from a family of six children, of which she was the second oldest and sort of the glue that kept the family together despite a LOT of drama. Only two of her siblings are still alive due to very bad luck with car accidents and some terrible illnesses. My two uncles are the oldest and youngest and have never been close at all, it's a real shame. When my mother was still alive she made sure that all of the kids in my generation really grew up together. We had giant family parties and visited relatives as far away as Hawaii on a regular basis, so I really got to know everyone better than any of the other cousins.
When Mom died, most of the family disappeared, only to be seen at other funerals. They were not exactly kind to me during Mom's funeral planning, and then they never bothered to keep in touch. They also blame me for not making the effort, despite my youth at the time. I've been resenting them for years, to be perfectly honest, but I am now an adult and willing to put that firmly in the past and give them another chance. Especially my cousins, after all, they were young, too.
When my oldest cousin called and said she wanted to plan a reunion in Orlando, I jumped at the chance to reconnect.
Everyone showed up except for my younger uncle and his daughter, who was busy giving birth to her first baby (pretty good excuse, huh?). My father and I joined the family on Friday (some had been down since Monday) at Epcot Center. Actually, we got there about an hour before everyone else made it, so we rode Spaceship Earth and I stood on the entrance fountain watching for everyone. It was so exciting to see them coming in, and even better to get to hug everyone!
We were only a group of 12 that day, which made it pretty easy to keep everyone happy, especially since Epcot is full of pretty mellow rides (except for Mission: Space and Test Track) so even the youngest kid with us (6) could go on almost everything.
It was so cool! We rode Spaceship Earth again, then checked out the new Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye version of the Universe of Energy, which was hysterically funny. We lamed out and went on the mellower version of Mission: Space so the people who couldn't handle the regular version didn't have to wait for an hour for the rest of us. I must admit, it was fun but I can't wait to do the full version of it because I love spinning rides! We all got on the single rider line for Test Track, but my cousin A and I got lucky and got to sit together anyway because of a very nice family riding with us who shifted their seating for us. What a great ride!
When we went to lunch at Mexico in the World Showcase us adults got to start doing what we do best - drinking! Their margaritas are really good, they even have a drink called the Fiesta Margarita that is layers of different flavors in one glass. Pretty AND delicious!
We explored the World of Imagination like crazy, taking in the ride and the movie as well as playing with every crazy toy they have there. The kids started to realize I was the fun adult - I turn into a total child the minute I walk through Disney turnstiles! I think that's one of the best parts of not having children, I still have the energy to act like one myself.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a trip through the Finding Nemo ride (Ellen is everywhere in Orlando now - the first thing we saw at Universal Studios was a billboard for her talk show, too) before heading back to get ready for dinner.
The best part of the day was that we were all together, but everyone got a little time alone with everyone else. Perfection!
We were staying at the Portofino Resort at Universal, which was gorgeous and very luxurious. Dad kept saying it looked just like Portofino in Italy except there were no cliffs rising behind the buildings and there were rowboats in the harbor instead of giant yachts. If you go to Orlando and aren't staying at Disney World (and have a LOT of money to spend), I highly recommend it.
Okay, I don't want to make this the world's longest post, so I'll continue this in a little bit. Stay tuned for Universal and the Magic Kingdom...