Monday, December 05, 2011

The Growing Pollock Family: Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas -- and Each Other.



It has been a remarkable three weeks for me and my four younger siblings, Marion, Ruby, Victor, and Reggie. We are pictured above celebrating Thanksgiving at my place on November 20. It was a day so warm and beautiful that we and a couple of dozen guests, all family, ate and relaxed outside on the deck. We were having our warmest November in 120 years.

Having spent our entire childhoods in separate, ever-changing and often abusive foster homes with no family at all -- not even a known distant aunt or uncle -- we find ourselves today surrounded by family. We are living our great childhood dream.

The group family photo above was taken on that great November day. Half hidden in the photo, just behind the kneeling Reggie is our white-haired, feisty, wonderful Aunt Lillian whom we never knew existed until recently. Here she is at my house on November 20.

Aunt Lillian is a love. She is in our lives only because of Victor's curiosity and diligence. Vic wondered: how could five unwanted kids not have a single known relative? Researching archives in Boston untouched for decades, he came across the name of one who appeared to be an actual cousin, Diane Bowen.  

Vic contacted Diane who, in a remarkably apt coincidence, is also a highly skilled genealogist. And the rest, as they say, is history. The story of Vic and Diane working together to make possible what we have today, as well as how the five of us found our way in this world, is told in my E-Book, "Last Laughs."

Now a few photos from our November 20 gathering:

Sister Marion, right, and son Jimmy, his wife Janet, and grandson James enjoy a glorious, summery fall day. James was smiling all day. When I go up to Marion's summer camp in New Hampshire, James and his sister Emmalee take charge of me and make sure I don't get lost.
Niece Linda, husband Craig, and their two young teens Karina and Cam make like its summer -- a little more than a week before December. Cam is trying to get taller than me.  I told him to stop growing, or else. (A little aside: If I had written "taller than me" for my old English teacher, Sister Francis Helen, she would have given me detention. A grammar purist, she would have demanded "taller than I." Sorry Sister, but, in this case, usage trumps.)

Kissing a car? Yes, but there is a reason I love it. The 1994 Honda Civic was originally bought new by my son Jon, left, upon his return from working in Germany. He handed it down to me. I, in turn,  recently handed it down to my grandniece, Karina, right, when she turned 16 and got her license. She now loves the stick shift. I hope to be driving this great little car again some day.   
Jon and his cousin Nanci chat and eat in the kitchen. Nanci and husband Keith flew in from California to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. The distance doesn't keep them from family. Nanci's mom, Marion, will be spending part of the winter with Nanci and Keith in California. P.S. I think that Jon and I look like brothers, don't you?


Here, Reggie and Jeanette try out my home office, or "mancave." Here, when not writing this blog or producing an E-book, I fall asleep in that big, comfy chair. The decorative theme is Africa, with African sculpture, colors, and photos from my three years teaching in Kenya and Nigeria. Full disclosure: wife Barbara, interior designer par excellence, designed it all.

And that was just Thanksgiving.

The next family event, on December 3, was so big it filled a VFW hall in Whitman, Mass. This wonderful evening was put together by cousins Joe Brown, who served as MC, and Ginny Lundstedt. Again, my four siblings and I were there. There was food, tons of it. There was music, dancing, a Yankee gift swap, and even a family trivia game. There were more cousins we had never met.

Here is a group photo of first cousins present and, in front, two of our recently discovered aunts, Aunt Lillian and Aunt Barbara.


In this photo, it shouldn't be hard to pick me out. Go ahead, give it a shot. You're right! That's me, George Francis Pollock the Third, in the dominant middle, with my royal crown of gold and surrounded by my subjects. From state kid to royalty in one lifetime, that's me. My wearing a gold crown is not too much, is it?

In the family trivia game, one of the questions that Joe Brown asked was: Which member of the family goes around calling himself royalty?  Several family members shouted, "George!"

I stood and acknowledged the cheers with a diffident royal wave and, to keep my gold crown from crashing to the floor, an ever so slight nod of the head. Oh, I thought, the demands of noblesse oblige.

Debra Edwards Pollock, a first cousin, came all the way from New York for the December 3 family reunion. Her father John and my father George (Francis Pollock the Second) were brothers. We met for the first time.

I was so excited I told her to "sit right there and do not move" while I went for a notebook to get contact info. I left her with her hand suspended in the air. When I came back, her hand was still where it was -- in the air, motionless.

"I didn't move," she said, smiling.

"Good girl.  Now you can put your hand down."

There was so much going on that Deb and I didn't get a chance to talk. She seemed a nice normal person with a great sense of humor. But beyond that, I knew nothing about this new cousin. But, like everybody, she has a story and I was curious about it.

Busybody that I am, I e-mailed Deb the next day. I asked her where she has been all my life and to "tell me about yourself." I ended with: "I'm an open book. All you have to do is read my blog and you'll know everything there is to know about me. But you, you're a mystery woman. So, baby, you want to be my cousin, out with it!"

Is that too pushy? We'll see. If so, I'll go to Plan B. A cousin is too precious to just let go away -- unless, of course, Deb is a serial killer.

The Yankee Swap was a blast.  We all brought gifts and we were given numbers to choose a gift in order, starting with one and going up. The Swap has a twist, a choice.  If you like your gift, you can choose to keep it; if not, you can swap it for somebody else's gift. People really got into it. Victor's Marianne, shown above with moderator Ginny, is a little excited I would say.

Ginny was right at home up there with a mike. She put people at ease, kept things moving, and had the whole room involved and giggling like a bunch of kids. Later I said to her, "Hey, you were a natural up there. You should go on TV.  Next time, we're going to make a video and send it around. You'll be a star in no time."

Ginny said she is open to being a big TV star. Judging from below, she could make it as a dancer, too.

The music had a beat that couldn't be resisted.  Though as the exalted family patriarch I shouldn't have, I got up there and danced, too.  In fact, Aunt Lillian and I went up there together and showed the youngsters in the family how it's done. 

Oh, I see, you don't believe it.  Okay, here's a little video of Aunt Lillian, my wife Barbara, and me going at it on the dance floor.  At one point, I was dancing with the both of them at once.  I couldn't help it; those dancing feet just took over. But not once did my golden crown fall off.
video


The next day, cousin Joe sent the following message to all family members:

"Ginny and I may have organized the party but the rest of you made it successful by being there. The amount of food you all brought was amazing. The participation in the Yankee swap and Trivia game added more fun. Plus we had our dancers who were not shy to get up and dance. Thanks to everyone."

So long and keep moving. 

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Other E-Books you may like:

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