Here's the Scoop: June 13, 2012

Who are you again?
Just a few more days until the Sweeney Family Reunion. That can only mean one thing — it’s time for me to pull out the Sweeney Family Tree and figure out who all these people are — and try to memorize their names.

I really like the reunion, but my memory isn’t that great. I often find myself asking folks at the reunion, “Do I know you?” Quickly followed by, “OK, do I like you?” Kidding, of course.
The tradition of the Sweeney clan gathering started nine years ago, with reunions now held every three years. Since the Sweeney grandparents ventured to the Catskills from Brooklyn, the reunions have been held in these here parts.

Holding the reunion locally is both good — and bad. As unofficial “hosts” we are expected to know things and provide insights for visitors. I don’t mind sharing information about the region, but I prefer to kick back and limit my advice to tidbits like: “The brew cooler is over there.” And then adding, “Would you mind grabbing one for me?”

I’m not trying to reinforce any stereotypes here connecting “Irish Sweeneys” and “beer drinking,” but I think it’s fair to say that there is a link for many reunion attendees. A brief reading of the official Sweeney Family Tree, which lists causes of death, reveals that this relationship has not always ended happily.

Let the good times roll
I’m not here to judge, though. The reunions are meant to be happy occasions. They are a chance to catch up and get know “my people” a little bit better. Because my father was from a large, Catholic family (is that redundant?), I have plenty of cousins and other “relatives” whose official ties are not easy for me to keep straight. At each reunion, I receive assurances that these folks are somehow connected to me. I’ll take everyone’s word for this fact.

Many of the folks attending the reunion make their homes on the East Coast, but there are a fair number of Midwesterners and a scattering from the Left Coast.

I think having relatives gather from across the country is a large part of the fun. I am always entertained by tidbits of information such as someone asking in astonishment: “What do you mean that you can’t buy Cheetos where you live?”

Of course, these differences occur even closer to home. One family member from New Jersey e-mailed recently to say that he planned to import a supply of “hoagies.” Having vacationed in the Garden State often as a child, I knew what a hoagie was, but I wonder how many others had to Google this information?

So, I’m actually looking forward to the reunion and want everyone to have a good time and add some pleasant family memories. I just hope that no one brings a camera — no sense documenting the “maturity” process that has occurred in the past nine years. I think we’re all better off with a foggy memory in that department.
— Brian Sweeney