My family had our every-five-year reunion in July at my oldest sister’s home near Atlanta and it was wonderful, as always.
Sis and her husband bought a home many years ago with a pond and some wooded acreage, and four of their five children have since built homes on the property too. So, a reunion there is a group effort — one daughter was in charge of the food, one in charge of the games. One son-in-law was in charge of cooking the pig for the pig roast. Because of a lot of hard work by all of them, they put on a great 3-day reunion.
A highlight for the littlest children, that I had never heard of before, was the “candy man” — apparently a regular event at parties in that part of the country. One of Sis’s college-age grandsons put on over his clothes one of his mother’s old long, flowing housecoats (what a good sport he was!) with candy attached all over it. Then the kids got to chase him around the yard grabbing candy off the robe! It was great fun to watch for the rest of us and, of course, the children thought it was great because they would love any game that involved “chasing” and “eating candy.” The only one who may not have had “lots” of fun, was the “chase-ee.” He ended up, face-down on the ground, exhausted (but laughing), with the kiddies sitting around (and on top of!) him, now able to fill their bags with candy without having to chase it! (sort of a Halloween “candy feast” in July)
When you have a family that has always been spread out across the country, reunions take on a really important place in your life, because they are a time when you take mental snapshots to treasure between times you see the others. We took lots of “real” photos too, of course. But, when you think about it, “mental snapshots” are so much more vivid because they involve not just the visual — but also the senses of smell and sound, like the aroma of food cooking and the sounds of conversation and laughter everywhere. This makes wonderful memories for a large, four-generation, spread-out-all-over-the-country family that will have to pretty much last each of us until the next reunion five years from now!
The dynamics of an event like that are very interesting to me. Even though these are all people you are related to, you spend pretty much the first day, getting “re-acquainted.” Meeting new wives and husbands. Seeing new “babies” — who may not be babies any more, but were born in the last five years. Then you spend lots of time talking (something I humbly admit, I’m pretty good at) for the next two days, catching up and getting to know. Wonderful. This is what “roots” are for a family who don’t all live in the same town and see each other every Sunday at church.
It used to be that families “normally” lived in the same area, but I think spread out families like ours have become very common now. So, family reunions become much more important for re-connecting.
I encourage any of you who have families that are spread out like mine, to try very hard to attend family events (reunions, weddings, and even funerals) so that you will remember and your children will learn — “from whence you come.”
May God bless each of you with memories, like these, of YOUR family to treasure and to pass on to your children and grandchildren.