Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Day: The Stook Family Reunion

It is strange to be writing 2010 now. Unbelievable that yet another year has passed. Here’s hoping that 2010 is a much better year than the past two has been for me and my family. I have great hope that since it began while we were still in Holland, that it will be a good one!

It is four days into the New Year and I need to catch up on my blog! So here goes, beginning with January 1st!

After our late night with the party at Wendy’s and the fireworks, we tried to get to bed at a more reasonable time than we had been because we knew we would be up and moving again in the early afternoon in January 1st. We had a second family reunion to attend. This one would be for my mother’s side of the family, the Stook’s. This family is even larger than my father’s side as my mother came from a family of 13 children. There are ten of her siblings that are still alive, three of which live in Australia, but the rest are in Holland. I also have many cousins in both countries as well. The reunion was being held in Zoetermeer, about an hour away (it seems that everything is an hour away from where we are!). My Uncle Paul had rented the little community center of a church. It has a kitchen, which was great since the Stooks like to cook as much as the Geeraths’! The reunion was scheduled from 3:00-11:00 p.m. We made the drive with no problems, with our usual caravan. Thank goodness my brother Ed brought his GPS with him because it has been the saving grace for us trying to get around out here! When we arrived, there were already a lot of family members there. I had cousins I would be meeting for the very first time, and some were in their 30’s! It was pretty exciting! Here is one of my cousins that I met for the very first time. Her name is Sarmah, and she is named after our grandmother, who passed away when her children were very young (my mother was only 9). She is 30 years old and married to Andy, and they have a 13 month-old son named Sem. Here is a picture of Sarmah and Sem:

And here is one of just Sem:

More little cousins I haven’t met (the two older boys, Kevin and Matthew, with the twins we had already met, Lyndon and Rodney)

An older cousin I have never met is here, talking to Bill. Her name is Rowena and she is 26 and she is the second oldest of four children (Ramona, Rowena, Charlene and Justin) of my Uncle Bertus and his wife, Anna. Bertus is my mom’s younger brother.

Rowena and her older sister Ramona were both rhythmic gymnasts for the Dutch National Team. Ramona actually was the Dutch National Champion in the mid 1990’s or so. She now coaches other gymnasts.

There was, of course, a lot of food again. Just a sample:

We spent most of the night eating and visiting with all of this family we haven’t met and catching up with the others. Before we knew it, it was time to go. I had to take a photo of two of my mother’s younger sisters (Bea and Thea) because they look so much like my mother, especially the sister on the right, Thea. I had a hard time looking at her because she reminded me so much of my mom, and I found myself getting teary eyed at the sight of her.

We finally left the reunion after 11:00. But before we all left, we got in a group photo, although this wouldn’t be all of the Stooks since some are in Australia and there was one missing since he or she took the photo:

By the time we got home, it was another late night. And on January 2nd, we had reunion #3. This time, it would be for all Geeraths’, obviously the majority of who live in Holland. Somehow we are all related and at this reunion is how we would learn how!

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