Betty Kurtz's relatives have only one task during their visit to Hawaii.
"They have to supply me with chi-chis," she said, underlining the statement with an infectious laugh. She's not sure how to spell the name of the rum and pineapple drink that's similar to a pina colada, "only bigger," but she remembers it from previous trips.
And why wouldn't these family members -- a brother and his wife; a sister and her children; nieces, nephews, spouses -- crowd around her with trays bearing drinks? "Aunt Betty" is treating them to the trip of a lifetime.
Miss Kurtz, 67, has made arrangements to take these 22 relatives from Western New York, Colorado, Minnesota, California, Florida and South Carolina to Maui and Oahu for two weeks.
Air fare and four condos cost her "in the neighborhood of $30,000," she said.
"If they want to eat, they're on their own for food," said Miss Kurtz, who retired from her job as an office manager at Continental Baking Co. after 43 years, 20 of them in Utica.
"I did it because I thought it was better to spend my money now rather than letting them spend it after I was gone," she said. "I worked hard for it, so I thought I'd like to see somebody enjoying it. It was great to see people's faces and hear their reactions."
She started hatching the plan last winter. "Then, in the spring, I made some phone calls to tell them to put the time aside. I thought it was about time I did something.
"They have to put up with me," she said. "It's a little reward for putting up with me."
Miss Kurtz, who is from a family of seven, grew up on Buffalo's East Side, in a time and place when families lived under one roof or down the block from each other.
Even today, as spread out as they are, they keep in touch as best they can. Every three years as many as 80 family members converge at a house in West Seneca, pitching tents, bearing food and drink, introducing the newest babies. They started the reunions after "Gramma" died, realizing they'd have to make a special effort to stay in touch, they say.
Younger members, friends and acquaintances all tease about being included, but this is a trip, mainly, for the older generation.
As Miss Kurtz was explaining how the trip came about, her great-niece Leslie Chamberlin walked through the kitchen. From their bantering, it's clear that "Aunt Betty" and she enjoy a playful, close relationship.
The younger woman learned about the trip when "Aunt Betty" told her she'd be missing some of the weddings she expected to work at this fall because she'd be in Hawaii.
"I think I got down on my knees and kissed her feet when I heard," she said.
Sixteen of the travelers will depart from Buffalo. They'll be armed with cribbage boards, backgammon games and cards for a euchre tournament. In Hawaii, they plan to sightsee and golf, but mostly they want some "laid back" time together in the most beautiful setting they could imagine.
"We've always had a good time being together," said Miss Kurtz, who agreed to be interviewed only because others thought that this was a story that should be told. "But being together in Hawaii will be precious time."