For most of the time I've had this blog, I've been pretty faithful at sticking to my original five-day plan. Not now. For the rest of November, I'm going to write random thoughts about things that interest me, bother me, or just tweak my imagination. It should be an interesting ride.
AylaPalooza IV, the biannual family reunion that our whole family discusses, plans, argues over, prepares for and then binges on, begins today. We can hardly wait. A few things have become staples of our AylaPaloozas. For instance, every one has its own theme and its own t-shirt. (See Monday's column for why I'm afraid of "Be Afraid.") We take turns cooking and cleaning up, and some events replicate from one AylaPalooza to the next. Still this year has a few entries we have not seen before. For one, this AylaPalooza is hosting the first-ever "Aylapa-Biggest-Looza" competition. At the start of this year, one son challenged the rest of us to see who could be in the best physical condition by reunion time. Originally intended to pit the brothers against one another, the "Biggest-Looza" competition gathered in almost everybody as sister, sisters-in-law, parents and even kids got involved. I've done just great -- I think I haven't gained more than two or three pounds -- but some have been very serious about their fitness. For example, daughter-in-law Stephanie has lost 62 pounds, taken up a couple of active sports, and is probably in the best shape of her adulthood. Daughter Rebecca has run a Ragnar Relay within the past year and recently completed a half-marathon in under two hours. Thus the Biggest-Looza competition has served a worthy purpose. There will be another new feature, as organizer Jared plans to pull family members out of one activity or another throughout the week to videotape scenes from a movie he is planning. He will cut it all together and show the video at the end of the reunion. We can hardly wait! Of course Thanksgiving is a centerpiece of this holiday, and we won't forget it, either, plus there will be time out for the 49er game -- an old, old family tradition -- whenever it is shown in our neck of the woods. Whether the activities are old, new or something in between, I'll be lovin' 'em all. Any time I can put my arms around that many of the earth's best people all in a single day is a very good time indeed.