in order to survive the holiday weekend, for which some of us have endured interminable flights and are sleeping on couches, to establish a new record for the continuous consumption of snack food, provide for the equitable distribution of bathroom time and promote the falsehood that it is a good idea to pack 27 family members under one roof, do ordain and establish this Constitution:
The family shall make no law abridging the freedom of other family members to shoot their mouths off, spill family secrets and otherwise embarrass themselves and others in ways that can be retold at future family gatherings. This includes the right of uppity Miami women to make Midwestern jokes in a room full of her brother's Iowan in-laws. She should not, however, expect anyone to come rushing to her defense should they turn on her in one corn-fed mass.
A well-lubricated family being necessary to the sanity of any gathering that includes more than four people who still remember the name of your ninth-grade crush and are not afraid to use it, the right of the adults to keep and bear drinks shall not be infringed at any hour.
The quartering of more than 27 family members under one roof shall be discouraged, even if you do have a tent in the back yard.
The right of the little sisters to be secure in their suitcases against the unreasonable searches and seizures of their belongings by their brothers and cousins shall not be violated, except when no one is looking.
No family member shall be forced to give evidence against themselves with regard to who drank the last lime-flavored Bud Light. No person shall be held to answer for having consumed the last lime-flavored Bud Light except on a presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury consisting of whoever made the last beer run.
In all family disagreements, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public airing of the most embarrassing things they have said or done since high school. Photographic evidence is encouraged.
Shopping by Jury: When the value in controversy shall exceed $25, a jury of your sisters-in-law shall be called to answer the question of How Many Purses are Too Many. The opinion of brothers, husbands and other male family members shall be inadmissible.
It shall be considered cruel and unusual punishment to impose upon the adult women of the family the obligation to undergo continuous "makeovers" at the hands of the 10-year-old girls. Uncle Mike, however, is fair game as he seems to enjoy it and looks good in a tiara.
The enumeration of these rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the family. Also, the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship does not constitute a real sport for the purposes of monopolizing the television.
The secret ingredient of Grandma Saul's potato salad is pototoes.*
Photo: Dibs on the air mattress.
*Aunt Cindy gave it up. Next we are sending her in for Bob's prize-winning barbecue sauce.