The group of more than 400 Dunagans is made up of those who talk and those who shush.
It's Sunday afternoon in the governor's mansion, and Sandra Deal is at the microphone, her utterings barely audible above the chatter coming from the back of the massive dining hall on the first floor.
In the room, there's a clear boundary between the gabbers and the avid listeners. Conversations start somewhere around the line for barbecue, baked beans and coleslaw. The impromptu social club ends near the metallic coffee urns and sprawling pans of peach cobbler.
Those sitting in the chairs closest to Georgia's First Lady are leaning forward, eyes affixed on the podium: a glossy, wooden lectern with a golden Georgia seal.
Normally, you'd see Nathan Deal behind that same political pulpit, delivering speeches to members of the press like myself, clutching notebooks and scribbling shorthand.
But today, I'm in attendance as a regular person, stripped of journalistic superpowers. I am here as husband to my wife: a descendant of Ezekiel Dunagan and a relative of Mrs. Deal.
As the First Lady continues talking at the podium, reminiscing on past Dunagan gatherings, a woman in the back row spins around fast in her chair; index finger goes to her lip: "Ssshhh!"
The shush-er's admonition goes wholly unnoticed.
It's hard to blame them for wanting to talk. It is, after all, a family reunion. People are going to socialize. They're going to hug, to guffaw. They're going to squeal at the long-awaited sight of one another.
Mrs. Deal thanks the crowd for coming. She smiles, giving up the podium to the governor, who makes a joke or two, aimed at disarming any stiffness in the sprawling hall.
Despite the intimidating size of the 24,000-square-foot Greek Revival mansion, it's clear that the Deals want the group to feel at home in their place of residence.
Arriving earlier, as I stepped up onto the porch, the governor greeted me at the door, arm outstretched, a true pro at the art of handshaking. "Good to have you here," he said, his other hand clapping me on the shoulder.
Stepping past me, he made his way down the steps, administering a similar greeting to others. He stopped for, by my estimation, 150 cellphone photos. The Facebook pages of Dunagans would overflow that evening with Deal's digital likeness.
Sporting our Sunday best, my wife and I had stepped through the home's threshold and began a guided tour through many of the mansion's 30 rooms. We saw a variety of beautiful, polished 19th century furniture, paintings and porcelain, all of it maintained by a nonprofit group that takes care of the place.
Ever since the Buckhead residence was completed in 1967 by Georgia architect A. Thomas Bradbury, it's been used as the living quarters for the state's highest ranking elected officials, beginning with Gov. Lester Maddox.
And since the beginning, governors who lived at 391 W. Paces Ferry Road have welcomed into their home senators, celebrities, U.S. presidents ... and in-laws.
Who better to invite to the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon than the family for a friendly gathering? There was delicious food, endless sweet tea, hugs and handshakes. And like any other family affair, boisterous and uninhibited mingling, much to the chagrin of those straining to hear Georgia's First Lady.
Frank Reddy is a staff writer and blogger for Gwinnett Daily Post. To read more, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/franksplace. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.