Family Reunion

Today is the second Sunday in August.  For as long as I can remember that has meant one thing: the family reunion is today.

In the old days we’d gather at someone’s home, and later at a nearby park, where picnic tables would be covered with fried chicken, chocolate pie and every imaginable type of Southern country goodness.  Though it was a technically a reunion of my maternal grandmother’s family, family was defined broadly and it was a large happy tribe.  Almost everyone lived in the community.  It was like a big post-church picnic.

These days a lot of the fried chicken is in KFC buckets, and most of the people come in from other places.  But there will still be plenty of great home-cooking and a lot of story-swapping.

Family reunion day is probably my mother’s favorite day of the year.  She spends all week cooking and preparing for it.  Last night she hosted a pre-reunion cookout at her house.

While Cherie and I are happy to spend our Sundays quietly on the farm, my mother is never happier than when surrounded by her large extended family.

Although I’d be perfectly happy to spend my Sunday at home, it’s the second Sunday in August. It’s family reunion day.

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13 comments on “Family Reunion

  1. I miss Sunday’s at the lake and my mom’s cooking, naps in the hammock with the sound of the kids swimming and hollering … the sounds of happiness. Have a wonderful day!

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  2. shoreacres says:

    We used to have large family reunions, too. The formal reunion was in summer, but Christmas served the same function, as everyone came in from Illinois, New York, and other Iowa towns to join in the fun.

    Today? I’d give anything for a family reunion. But the family is all gone: father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins. Only one aunt and three cousins remain on my maternal side. One day, you might not have the chance to gather with family. Count your blessings — and have fun!

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, when I was a kid, my mother’s side of the family would have huge reunions. We would fill up a city park with people and kids. Cousins that I had no idea who they were or how they were related to me became best friends for a day. Potluck food made in the kitchens of grandma filled tables. Today that generation has died off and still a handful of Mom’s relatives hang on to the tradition of family reunion. However the parks are out as most have the shuffle walk or have walkers to use. The reunions are held now in a small town bar and restaurant and food is ordered off the menu. Those reunions of the past are still awesome memories.

    The current generations have reunions constantly through media. There’s no need to travel miles to see family any more. With Skype and Face to Face media applications, instant communication with family members are any time and not just once a year. Granted there’s no hugs from those not seen since last year and no food from grandma’s kitchen but it’s how the young generation exists. When this generation get old, if the world still exists, they too will have great memories of the youth and how they connected with the family. Of course I don’t like where communication with friends and family is headed but 50 years down the road kids of today won’t like where it’s headed either.

    Have a great family reunion day.

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    • Bill says:

      You make a great point Dave. In the past this might be the only day every year when the distant relatives (meaning those that live far away) might be able to see or talk to each other. That’s not the case anymore, regardless of how far away we go.

      We’re fortunate that the reunion still draws young and old. Maybe not as much as in the past, but it’s still got some life in it. But traditions change and evolve over time. This gathering, if it still happens, will probably look at lot different 50 years from now.

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  4. avwalters says:

    I’m building this summer, so no travel for me. Usually, August 2nd, I’d be in the Keweenaw–picking berries and visiting. It’s my dad’s birthday and, before he and my mom settled there, he made it a point to always go “home” for his birthday. And so it began, a tradition for the rest of us. Now that he’s gone, it feels even more important–to be with my mom and to savor the berry rich days of summer in the far north. This year I had to pass. Though I’m inclined to be a homebody these are traditions that speak to the heart.

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    • Bill says:

      I like the old traditions, even though I’m very content to stay at home now. I like it best when family gatherings are here. That’s how immobile I’m becoming. 🙂

      It is very important to maintain a connection to place, I think. Sometimes we have to travel to do that and sometimes we don’t.

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  5. Once at a 100-year running family reunion in PA, I and 5 or 6 boy cousins pelted our fat cousin Max with acorns. I occasionally think about that afternoon. I remember what it smelled like. I remember max’s face. Max grew up to live a life of sin. I did too for that matter. But I’m Christian enough to wish I could tell him I’m sorry.

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  6. EllaDee says:

    Sometimes I think family reunions are as much about the food as they are about people and memories… Certainly the case with mine. The G.O. calls it the “food fest”. But they all go hand in hand 🙂

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