Every year, my family and I host an annual cookout which has been a enormous success for the past three years. While we appreciate our guest's reception, hosting an event of this magnitude is exceedingly exhausting and financially taxing. On average, we have a guest list of about 50 to 80+ individuals which in turn requires a lot of ribs, burgers, chicken and many other side dishes. The guests range from local neighbors, to church folk, to family members to guests from as far away as Georgia, New Jersey, Florida and New York.
The initial idea for this cookout originated via Rugrat's mind. When my bro and I were younger, our family was known for our summer cookouts which attracted tons of people and the memories of those events have persisted into adulthood. However, we've created and lost friendships and circumstances have allowed for a new group of family and friends who did not experience our past cookouts. Thus, in 2005, we decided to have the biggest cookout possible.
In order to make it better than our "average" past cookouts, we added unique touches such as raffles (50/50, iPods, etc.), pools, volleyball, basketball, and balloons. We created a musical playlist which combined blues, Motown oldies, R&B and my bro's rap. Every year has been a learning experience from the guests, food, activities and music. Consequently, the memories are too numerous to mention in this post and being able to have my aunts, uncles, choir members, co-workers, neighbors, friends, cousins, great-nieces and nephews and even ex's all getting along in one yard is one hell of an amazing experience!
We've had good memories such as celebrating my parents 25th anniversary with a special cake as well as not so good memories, including me getting wasted and proceeding to cuss out my late aunt and parents while being restrained by Kingston (I apologized before she passed and since cut back on alcohol ten fold). Seeing little children run around playing while the adults just relaxed and ate grilled food lifts my spirit and has given me something to look forward to every year. And the most phenomenal part? Sitting at my table and seeing Crazy, D.G., Kingston, The Divo and BJ (one of my X-Men) actually get along!
Nevertheless, the annual cookout will occur this coming weekend (19th) and I really think someone is going to be killed before this is over! My family has a cookout account that we fund continuously throughout the year and after a January meeting, we determine if and when the cookout will transpire. Needless to say, the enthusiasm is minimal and a few curve balls have been thrown our way. Due to President Idiot's economical "slow-down", money is definitely tight. Furthermore, my dad's health isn't all that great so most of the manual labor (yard work) has been left to me and my bro.
Thankfully, we have decided that this will be the last year for a while so I think we're going to really try and enjoy this. While I won't grieve over the work that goes into this, I will miss the excitement and gathering of friends and family. So far, this year is looking promising with the weather possibly cooperating. I'm a bit disappointed that Kingston, D.G. and BJ won't be there but I'm very excited that The Divo and his boyfriend, 3 Degrees and her boyfriend, and Crazy will be attending. Overall, I'm going to endeavor to enjoy it knowing that it will be over soon but I am going to really miss our summertime tradition ...