Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.07.04
Stanstead, Quebec


"Hey, kids, let's play bare-toed croquet!"

Bored with the same old family gatherings? Cringe at the prospect of hearing Uncle Felix drone on about his spleen? Undergoing the scrutiny of your in-laws doesn't give you that life-on-the-edge thrill it used to?

Well, take family gatherings to the next level and dive headlong into the pulse-pounding world of Xtreme Famlee Ree-U-nions©!

Xtreme Famlee Ree-U-nions©, or XFRs, are the latest rage for those who want to live dangerously but still have to play host to their second-cousin Biff, his wife Mandy, and their three kids Britneeh, Chelseagh, and Todddddd. XFRers live by the motto: "The family that thrashes together kicks asses together!" Rock on! So what are the basics of an Xtreme family gathering? That's the beauty; like most extreme sports, you don't need a lot of protective gear, preparation, or smarts. All you need is the courage to look danger and your hungover aunt in the face.

But there are a few guidelines to make your XFR a bitchin' time. Try to keep up as we guide you through a typical killer weekend!


Just as a SK8ter dude can't always keep his ollies from dipping the shoondog (and that's totally patz when that happens!), so too a host can't always control which family members show up. But a good rule of thumb is: lots. Fill that house to overflowing, like a mosh pit at a Deathskull Pizza concert (circa 1995). The more people, the more attitude, noise, and emotional confrontations you can expect. Not to mention fun with showers. Whoa!

For example, don't forget to invite your sullen but edgy cousin, the one who likes to mutter about your not knowing hell until you've spent a month in a Cambodian hot box. And why stop at families? Why not invite "surprise" guests like that ex-girlfriend one brother stole from the other? That makes for good tension, the kind that feeds a most exalted XFR.

And, of course, rottweilers always welcome.


Alcohol is what you need to heighten every Xtreme emotion. And don't forget to feed those testosterone levels with plenty of red meat. Don't even cook it! But if you must, forget the barbecue. Barbecues are for sissies. A good unsupervised fire pit is what you need.

Booze. Meat. What else do you need for an XFR? Two words: Hot! Sauce!

Dress code

Speedos for everyone! And no bathing.


A boombox, some 50 Cent, and you're ready for some fist-pumping partyin'! Kick it up a little with the following games: Frisbee horseshoes, shallow-end pool-diving, bare-knuckle Pictionary.

Remember, no game is so friendly that it can't escalate to hostility through some well-timed name-calling and ramped-up competitiveness. Question your nephew's sexuality after he misses a pop fly and you're well on your way to a beauty of an Xtreme family memory.


Bring 'em on! If chaos is what you crave, then kids are what you need. The more the scarier. You can feed the anarchy in many ways. Chocolate is good. Or give the kids squirt guns, then high-tail it out of there for the other grownups to handle. Plus, there is no end of the hazards kids can get into to provide that adrenaline high you live for. Again, you can help by leaving windows open leading onto porch roofs. Can't you feel the rush? Before the end of the weekend, you'll be crying, "Dude, where's my cardiac surgeon?"


While it's true there's no wound like an old wound, sometimes it's hard to get a rise out of even the most hypersenstive guest. That's why XFRers pride themselves on conversation starters like these: "I think the separatists may have a point" or "This is my rottweiler Hitler" or "Mom, I'd like you to meet my 'special friend' Otto."

Follow these tips and go with your worser instincts and you'll be well on your way to an Xtreme Famlee Re-U-nionŠ that will make "Jerry Springer" look like "The Waltons"!

And don't forget to say everything with exclamation marks!!!