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Lynn Hummel: The annual Flintstone family reunion

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

They have one every year, but this one was special. Yes, I’m talking about the annual Flintstone family reunion. The Flintstones have been family friends for years, going back to kids about the same age, baptisms, birthday parties, confirmations, graduations, weddings, and even funerals of the previous generation.

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The family, about 30 more or less, gathers at the home of one of the brothers (also a father, grandfather, uncle, etc.) for a four day celebration. They pour in from Juneau, Alaska, Seattle, Baltimore, Denver and all over Minnesota. Their ages range from single digits to seven decades.

There are many teachers in the group, so they all spoke with perfect grammar and complete sentences. Not once did one of them utter the non-word IRREGARDLESS. Not once did any family member say, “I will borrow you my towel.” There was also a youth leader-evangelist, so cursing was held to an absolute minimum — only when necessary. Add a couple of engineers, so somebody was always on hand to start motors and open cans. Finally, there were college and high school students and even younger, for youth, beauty, energy and straight teeth.

Reunion headquarters was lakeside, so there were kayaks, paddle boats, a jet ski, a pontoon, tubes and various other floating devices. The kids hollered, laughed, swam, and splashed one another and so did the adults. This was a sport-centric group with athletes, coaches and ex-coaches, so the conversation was more focused on Twins, Vikings and Orioles, college and high school teams than about subjects, predicates and American history.

Also, this family is highly competitive, so there were about a half dozen games of skill going on, and they were not only keeping score, they maintain a cumulative scoreboard, so there is no such thing as flying under the radar and hoping to go unnoticed. It was a regular family Olympic Games.

The reason this reunion was special was that it was a Billy-Bob, Brigitte celebration. Billy-Bob is the Flintstones’ son, who at the age 40, had never shown much interest in girls, much less cool pants and sport shirts that didn’t have a number or team name printed on the front and back. He lived alone in his own bachelor world, loving and teaching history to inner-city kids in Baltimore, while reading sport magazines and watching ballgames on TV and in person. Then, three years ago, he met Brigitte from Baltimore, a Jamaican beauty who was teaching at the same school. Brigitte opened his eyes and they started talking. Eventually, they had a date. Billy-Bob wore a hockey jersey for that first date.

Two years ago, Billy-Bob brought Brigitte to the reunion in Minnesota. Wow! The family paid attention. She really knew how to dress and did she look great. They began to talk: “She is a woman! You don’t suppose our Billy-Bob is getting serious and is going to ...”

Then a year later, he brought Brigitte to the reunion again, and this time Billy-Bob had a sharp haircut, cool pants and shirt with a button-down collar with no number or team name. A shaping-up process was taking place. Before that reunion was over, they were engaged.

They got married in June in Baltimore. So this year, the reunion in August was bigger and better because Brigitte and Billy-Bob, the bride and groom, were there. On the last day of the reunion, the Flintstones had a reception and program and fortunately, a few of us non-family friends were invited. The program was under the direction of the family matriarch, who didn’t miss a detail.

Billy-Bob’s brother, his best man, repeated his earlier comments in which he pointed out, one by one, the wonderful improvements in his brother’s appearance. After each one, a chorus of voices chimed, “Thanks Brigitte.”

The maid-of-honor’s statement was read by Billy-Bob’s sister. A greeting of what the respected late family grandmother would have had to say for the occasion was presented by another brother. (The grandmother retired from teaching at the age of 65, then went to Africa to teach for a year, though nobody knows how she got there — she didn’t know east from west and got lost on the way in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport). Readings and verses were presented, songs were sung (the whole musical family can sing), thanks were expressed by the bride and groom and the entire program was just wonderful.

All the guest visitors agreed that the Flintstones clearly know how to throw a reunion and they know how to show love and respect. Welcome to the new culture, Brigitte.

Columnist’s note: As you probably guessed, the names have been changed to protect the shy, modest Flintstones. None of them, Billy-Bob and Brigitte included, are interested in being stars on Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube or high-circulation newspapers.

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