It was the first day of Spring. All the snow had recently melted. Puddles of water were on the streets from the melted snow. It had been several weeks since Kimi's 12th birthday.
Chuckie, Kimi, Kira, and Chazz were in the living room. Tomorrow would be a very important day in their lives. Tomorrow would be the first family reunion for the Finsters, including Kimi's French and Japanese grandparents and Chuckie's grandparents, both of his father's parents and mother's parents.
Chuckie and Kimi were sitting on the couch while Chazz and Kira stood before them.
"Listen up kids" said Kira, "today is spring cleaning day."
"Spring Cleaning?" Chuckie and Kimi said together, "not again!"
They both stopped. "That was weird" they said together. They exchanged glances. "Boy, that was weird too!"
"I want this house to be spotless for the family reunion. You're going to get to meet your aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, and other relatives" said Chazz.
Chuckie and Kimi were excited about the reunion.
"We're going to spend all day cleaning today" said Kira. "I want the house to be spick and span for when they come. Your father and I don't want any excuses. So pick a room and get started."
"Ahhh nuts!" said Chuckie and Kimi together.
They stopped and exchanged looks.
"We did it again!"
A little later, Chuckie and Kimi were cleaing the house with their parents. They wiped the counters, dusted the furniture, tidied up the attic and basement, and mopped and swept the floors.
In the bathroom, Chuckie and Kimi were brushing the floor with old toothbrushes. Chuckie, hoping for some fun put some of the soap suds on his face.
Kimi started to laugh.
"Hey look!" said Chuckie, "I'm the Creature from the Soap Lagoon!"
The siblings laughed.
Chazz and Kira came in after cleaning up the kitchen.
"Well at least my part of the floor doesn't have any more cavities" said Kimi.
The siblings laughed again.
"Kids, you can joke around later" said Chazz. "For now, we got to get this house all nice and ship shape."
"What kind of ship shape will we use?" asked Kimi.
She and Chuckie laughed again.
Even Kira started to giggle.
"Let's get back to work now" said Chazz. "If you kids stop clowning around and continue working, we'll give you an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert tonight."
Chuckie and Kimi began to work harder.
Finally, by the time it was supper, the house was cleaned up.
That night, Chuckie and Kimi slept in their beds thinking about the upcoming family reunion.
"I didn't know I had aunts and uncles" said Kimi.
"Me neither" said Chuckie. "And what's a relative?"
"I don't know" said Kimi. "Although I know what cousins are."
Later that night, at 3:00 a.m., the doorbell rang.
"Who could that be at this time?" asked Chazz as he and Kira got out of bed, put on their slippers, and went downstairs to the front hall.
Upon opening the door, they saw a couple in their late 60's.
Chazz recognised them. They were the parents of his first wife Melinda. They were Martha and Edward Durmer, Chuckie's grandparents.
"We're here" said Edward.
"Nice to see you at this early hour" said Chazz. "But there's a nice motel near the interstate."
"Same old Chazz" said Edward, "we never did like you that much. I don't know what my daughter saw in you."
"By the way" said Martha, "where's our favorite grandson?"
"He's asleep" said Kira, "don't bother waking him up."
"Then what are we to do till morning?" asked Martha.
"I mentioned a motel near the interstate," said Chazz.
"Don't push yourself Charles" said Edward sharply.
"Let me take your bags" said Kira as she took Martha and Edward's suitcases. She put them in the closet.
Martha and Edward came into the house after Chazz closed the door.
"Nice house" said Edward. "Don't see how you can afford a place like this."
"I own a coffee shop business now" said Chazz. "Kira owns it too."
"So I heard" said Edward. "I owned my own business when I was young. I dealt in antiques."
"Uh much like your suitcases" said Chazz with a chuckle.
Edward frowned. "I still don't see what Melinda saw in you."
"Of course not" said Chazz. "You're only looking at the outside!" (rimshot)
"How about your sister-in-law?" asked Martha. "She's married to a nice man. What a macho looking guy! I don't know why Melinda went for you instead of him."
"So where shall we sleep tonight?" asked Edward.
"I'm still mentioning that nice motel" said Chazz with a chuckle.
Edward frowned. "My biggest regret in life Charles, was having you for a son-in-law! I still have no idea why my first daughter even married you!"
"I suppose you're going to say the same thing about me being married to him?" asked Kira.
"Congratulations Kira" said Edward. "Charles is exactly the kind of man I would have expected you to marry."
"Did you just insult her?" asked Chazz.
"You don't know Chazz like I do" said Kira. "He's a wonderful guy and a wonderful father."
"He's also a dork!" said Edward.
"Hey!" said Chazz, "I may be dorky looking, but at least I am a nice guy! Haven't you ever heard the phrase, `don't judge a book by its cover'?"
"In your case, I can make an exception" said Edward.
"You two can sleep on the couch tonight" said Kira. "I would have given you the guest bedroom, but obviously, with that attitude towards my second husband, you don't deserve it!"
Just then, the doorbell rang again. When Chazz opened it, outside stood a young couple in their late 30's. With them was a sixteen year old girl with blonde hair.
"Hello Charles" said the woman. "Remember me? I'm Isabelle, your sister-in-law. I'm sure you know my husband Peter."
"Hello" said Peter.
"Well at least somebody in Melinda's family respects me" said Chazz as the couple came into the house.
"Now where is my nephew?" asked Isabelle.
"He's asleep" said Chazz. "Speaking of which, who's this young lady?"
"This is our daughter Lilly" said Peter. "She's a sophmore in high school."
"I never would have guessed" said Chazz.
"Hi uncle Chazz" said Lilly.
"Uh hi" said Chazz.
"I'm going to have to bring out some sleeping bags" said Kira, "unless you two want to go down to that motel near the interstate."
Edward glared at his son-in-law.
"I had two daughters in my life" he said. "Isabelle here married quite a guy! Melinda on the other hand had to go and marry a dork!"
"That's starting to get really old" said Chazz. "That's already the second time you've called me a dork."
"Melinda wasn't as picky towards guys as Isabelle was" said Martha. "She would date and guy."
As Kira put their bags in the closet, the doorbell rang again. Upon opening it, outside stood her in-laws Pierre and Anita, the parents of her first husband and Kimi's much hated French grandparents.
"Are we late?" asked Anita.
"No, you're early" said Kira as she took their bags and put them in the closet."
"Don't forget those bags" said Pierre.
Kira looked outside. Her mouth dropped open with surprise at the small mountain of baggage.
The others helped her take the bags in. Soon, there wasn't any room in the closet for the bags, so they had to just leave everything in the living room.
"You can go up to the guest bedroom and put your stuff away" said Kira.
As Pierre and Anita went upstairs, Kira said to herself, "how many more people are coming? I wanna get back to bed!"
"Oh, and one more thing" said Pierre, "the others will be arriving tomorrow."
"Well, then I can get some sleep" said Kira.
The doorbell rang again. When Kira opened it, she was relieved to see her parents outside.
"Let me take your bags" she said.
"How nice" said Kyoto as he and his wife Koki came into the house, "but I think we can manage."
"At least Kimi will be happy to see you two once she gets up tomorrow" said Kira.
Kyoto and Koki put their bags with the other bags, adding to the clutter.
The next morning, Chuckie and Kimi got dressed in their regular clothes. Chuckie put on his blue shirt, green pants, and red shoes. Kimi put on her yellow and pink shirt, her green skirt, and her purple shoes.
"Let me tie your shoes for you Chuckie" she said. She bent down and began to tie his shoelaces. Withing ten seconds, she was finished.
"Thanks" said Chuckie.
They went downstairs to the kitchen.
"Where did all those suitcases on the couch come from?" asked Chuckie.
"Don't ask me" said Kimi. "I don't know either."
They went into the kitchen, but stopped under the doorway.
"Morning kids" said Pierre who was reading the paper. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah, great" said Kimi.
Anita was preparing breakfast. She flipped the flapjacks on the stove.
"Too bad we don't live at the mansion anymore" she said. "Our maid would be doing this. But we like it here in the small town, despite the fact that we now have to pick up after ourselves."
Chuckie and Kimi sat at the table as Anita brought the pancakes to the table.
"Eat well" she said. "There's more where that came from!"
Kyoto came into the kitchen.
"Hey, there's my favorite granddaughter!" he said.
Kimi stood and gave her grandpa a big hug.
"And how about my grandson?" he asked, "you must be really lucky having Kimi for a step-sister."
"It's great" said Chuckie.
"Today is going to be the best family reunion ever!" said Kyoto. "With Kimi and Chuckie as the newest addition to the family, we are going to be spending all our time with you two!"
"That's just great" said Chuckie.
The doorbell rang again. When Kira went to answer it, she peered through the keyhole to see five middle aged men and women in French high class clothing.
Kira opened the door.
"Kerima! So nice to see you" said a woman.
Kira knew who these people were. They were her in-laws back in Paris. She recognised Suzette, Jacque, Claire, Claudius, and Gertrude.
After they put their bags with the others, Suzette said to Kira, "you've changed much since we last saw you."
Kimi and Chuckie came into the living room.
"Mom, who are these people?" asked Kimi.
"Oh" said Claudius, "is this Kimberly?"
"Why yes" said Kira. "But we call her Kimi. And that's her step brother Charles Junior. We call him Chuckie."
"Who are these people anyway?" asked Chuckie.
"Well, these are Kimi's aunts and uncles!"
"Huh?" asked Kimi.
"They're here for the reunion" said Kira.
"Is that why we had to spend all day yesterday cleaning?" asked Kimi.
"Why yes" said Kira.
"Why didn't you hire a professional?" asked Jacque. "They do the work for you."
"That costs too much" said Kira. "Besides, the kids need to learn some responsibility. You could just all be doing the work at your own homes."
"What?!" gasped Jacque, "and get our hands dirty?! Are you nuts?!"
Claire said, "people with class don't soil their hands on stuff like that."
"Haven't you guys ever heard of gloves?!" said Kimi.
"How rude!" said Gertrude.
"Where have I heard that before?" Kimi said to herself.
"Aren't you guys married?" asked Chuckie.
"Heavens no!" said Gertrude. "Getting married costs money. Plus a spouse can spend more money than you can."
"Yeah, you were all a bunch of cheapskates!" said Kira.
"Pardon?" asked Claire.
"You're all so cheap!" said Kira. "You don't want to spend any of your own money! You like earning money, but you don't like spending it!"
"We don't get out much" said Suzette.
"Haven't you ever heard of charity?" asked Kira.
"Don't know don't care" said Claudius. "Why should we spend money for the happiness of commoners?"
"Oh by the way" said Kira, "where's Nicholas?"
"He's going to be a little late" said Claudius. "Like our youngest brother John-Pierre, he's the only one out of us to marry!"
"At least he has some common sense" said Kira.
Kimi opened up one of the briefcases. "What do you pack in here anyway?" she asked.
"Fancy clothing of course" said Gertrude. "We always have new clothes to wear. We never wear anything that's over a week old!"
"We also packed some other clothes up" said Suzette, "for you and your brother to try on."
"After all" said Claire, "you do want to look your best for the reunion."
"Why do we always have to dress up like this?" asked Chuckie.
"Because you have to look your best" said Suzette. "Years ago, you could get arrested if you weren't dressed right or if you had a bad skin condition!"
"Well times have changed" said Kira.
"Come come come now" said Claudius, "let's get the kids up to their room to dress them up!"
"Here we go again!" said Kimi as she and Chuckie were taken up to their room.
Moments later, the doorbell rang again. Outside stood Nicholas and his wife Francis.
"So nice to see you" said Kira.
"Top of the morning to you Kerima" said Nicholas. "I'm sure you know my wife Francis."
"Pleased to make your aquantaince" said Francis.
"At least you weren't cheap enough to get married" said Kira. "Your brothers and sisters don't want to spend money on getting married."
"Probably because of the fear of a large settlement after divorce" said Francis. "By the way, where's my younger brother?"
"You mean John-Pierre? He's been dead for almost twelve years!"
"Oh dear" said Nicholas. "I did not know. I've been all across Europe attending business meetings. Now, I am richer than ever! But still, not as rich as mom or dad."
"They're in the kitchen making breakfast" said Kira.
"Oh by the way" asked Nicholas, "where is my niece Kimberly?"
"Upstairs with her stepbrother with her aunts and uncles. They're dressing her and Chuckie up for the reunion."
Nicholas and Francis threw their baggage onto the couch with the rest of the luggage, adding to the clutter.
"So when does the reunion start?" asked Francis.
"Tonight at 6:30 p.m" said Kira. "We're going to spend much of today here making plans for the day as soon as everyone arrives. The only people left to come are my old high school friend Osana, her husband Kola, and their son Ken."
"Are they part of the family?" asked Nicholas.
"No" said Kira. "I just wanted my friend to come to relive our high school days. Not only that, Osana's son Ken is also Kimi's boyfriend, who is also the boy she is destined to marry."
Meanwhile, upstairs, Kimi's aunts and uncles dressed her and Chuckie up in high class clothing. They took off the clothes Chuckie and Kimi were currently wearing and put on some fancier clothes. On Chuckie, They put on a black suit and tie along with black shiny shoes. On Kimi, they put on a pink dress with blue ribbons, along with a pink bow in her hair. They pulled the band out of her hair, allowing her pigtail to fall. Then they tied her hair down into a ponytail. Finally, they put pink quartz shoes on her feet.
"Now don't you two look all spiffy today!" said Gertrude.
"Yeah right" said Chuckie and Kimi together.
They stopped and exchanged glances.
"Why do we keep doing that?" they both asked.
In the bathroom, Suzette was putting a collar with a diamond around Fifi's neck.
"Now even the poodle has style!" she said.
To Be Continued
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