Must be a Jell-o Cake Cuz Family Don’t Shake Like That

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I love Canada. I sometimes hum the national anthem, mostly because if I sing it I get the words wrong. They changed two lines of it about 30 years ago and I still don’t know what they are.  I love Canada Day because it’s the one holiday where you just show up with a bean salad, some devilled eggs and a bathing suit and you’re done.

This year, my brother Kevin hosted the event at his cottage. There are six siblings, my mom, plus 13 nieces and nephews and my sister-in-law’s extended family. Add to this two exchange students — one from Australia, the other from Germany. My sister was hosting one of them, and my brother the other. The two jet-lagged teens were given a Canadian flag tattoo and initiated into the unruly bunch of loud Kimmetts.

The day began with skeet shooting (not even pacifists mind bagging the occasional skeet), followed by boating, water tubing, and jumping off cliffs (into a quarry, that is!). This was followed by snacking on salsa dip, guacamole dip, helluva dip and every potato and corn chip ever invented. The eating was interrupted by chewing the fat on a diverse range of topics like politics, the economy and the school system. I say “talking,” but in truth, we yell about nearly every subject. The less we know about the topic, the louder we get. But it’s Canada. We have the freedom to yell in the wilds of southern Ontario and not have one fact right.

I love my family, and as the years roll on I appreciate the loud stories we tell and the way my brothers’ faces crumble when they tell a tale. Just like my Dad, they start laughing at their own jokes and can barely get out the punchline. I love that we have gotten less sensitive over the years and can tease each other without repercussion. That we are diverse, food-wise at least. With 30 different food items — from Mexican to new age — we prove that even small-town families are now a melting pot of culinary tastes.

I was aware of the outsiders’ eyes examining our strange Canadian ways.  As my brother told a story about bagging a deer that landed him on the cover of the Great White Tail magazine, I whispered a disclaimer to the Australian: “Not all Canadians are like this, eh?”

The young Aussie took out his iPhone and snapped a picture of the Jell-o cake (a pound cake soaked in red Jell-o, chilled until it sets and then covered in Dream Whip) that was decorated with strawberries in the shape of a Canadian flag. The fireworks began to go off somewhere in the distance and from the cottage we heard the children sing “O Canada” the way our ancestors did — in the key of off.

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