Family Reunion

Last Sunday was the day of our annual family reunion. It’s how I’ve spent the second Sunday in August for as far back as I can remember. It’s a gathering that has been happening every year for over 100 years.

Technically it’s the reunion of my maternal grandmother’s family, and as time marches on leaving new generations in its wake, many of us there are distant cousins.

It’s an amazing feast of course, as you would expect anytime Southerners gather for a picnic in the summer. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture of the spread.

Back when I was growing up only a few people had to travel a great distance to attend, as nearly all of us still lived in the community. But these days over half the people there come from far away, thanks to the mobility that has come with this day and age.

It’s nice to spend an afternoon with family, enjoying a great meal. But my favorite thing about the family reunion is how happy it makes my mother. I’m sure it is the happiest day of the year for her. She is devoted to family and nothing makes her happier than a whole bunch of us gathered for a meal. These days the reunion is at a park, but she hosted a cookout at her house the night before, doubling her enjoyment of the weekend I suppose.

I heard someone saying that thanks to things like Skype, Facebook and email it really isn’t necessary to have old-fashioned family reunions any more. And I wonder if the tradition will survive when the older generation passes, and we continue to become more and more far-flung.

Whatever happens in the future, I’m sure there will be a family reunion as long as my mother is alive. And when the second Sunday in August rolls around next year, I know where I’ll be.

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16 comments on “Family Reunion

  1. avwalters says:

    I feel the same way about my mum. I’m glad you have such a rich warm tradition in which to celebrate those feelings and bring joy to others.

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    • Bill says:

      The family reunion is a high holy day for my mother. She spends a week cooking and getting ready for it and she begins reminding us of the date months before it arrives (as if I could forget it). I get joy out of seeing the joy it gives her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laurie@hinterlands.me says:

    Whatever the technology, people need actual contact. I expect reunions will continue to flourish.

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    • Bill says:

      You may be right, but our reunion seems to get a little smaller each year. I wouldn’t say technology is entirely to blame for that. The fact that the family has scattered and that we tend to be so busy these days is also a factor.

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  3. That is impressive that your family still gets together every year from far and wide. I do hope Skype, etc… doesn’t dissuade people from the tradition of getting together. People are losing their ability to relate to one another with all of this technology. Granted – we are using technology right now to relate to one another, but I’d give my right-hand (I’m left-handed of course) to have close friends, family and neighbors like those I’ve met through the blogging world.
    Spending summers in the south with my father’s family when I was little was a great experience – there was always the family reunion during the summer (plus 50 ways to attend church each week ; D). Not only was there an amazing feast at the reunion, I remember mamaw having a couple of pies and cakes on the sideboard at all times – she seemed to be always cooking something (when we weren’t attending church-related celebrations/services) despite the fact she lived alone! I was pretty young, so perhaps she always had company dropping by to visit.
    Long live southern traditions!

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    • Bill says:

      My Granny always had pies and cakes on the sideboard too and she too always seemed to be cooking. It was a hard-working farm family and while they may not have earned much money from farming, for sure nobody ever went hungry. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        I think it’s the pies and cakes that keeps folks coming back for the reunion. Making them, and especially making them well is the initiation to the club of family.

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  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, my mother’s family used to have reunions that took up an entire city park. Once a year I would meet all my distant cousins that I vaguely remembered from the last year. As my generation grew up and scattered all across the country, the attendance dwindled down until today the reunion is maybe 30 at most and is still falling. At a young 68, I am probably among the youngest there. When the 80 year old generation dies off, I suspect the reunion will be done. Each year there’s a couple more that have passed. Reunions are not of high importance for the younger generation. Texting, email, Facebook, and other media platforms have literally taken the reunion out of my family’s picture. It’s a sad thing to be able to remember the good times we had at the reunions of the past and watch it slowly die. In my humble opinion, there’s still nothing like face to face personal conversation time. You are fortunate to have your reunion alive and well. I hope you get to enjoy it for the rest of your life and your kids get to enjoy for the rest of their lives.

    Have a great reunion day.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Dave. Our attendance is going down too, but we do still have young people coming. There were babies, toddlers and pregnant women there this year. But I do wonder whether our reunion will continue once the older generation passes on. I wonder how many people are attending because they know how much it means to the older people.

      One downside of so many people coming in from far away is that a lot of the food isn’t homecooked any more. Back in my childhood everything there was homecooked. Now it’s common to see KFC buckets and store-bought pies. But it’s easy to spot the real stuff and that always goes first. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    When Skype, Facebook and email can offer hugs, tell a story, or offer a second piece of coconut cream pie, I might consider them as substitutes. Until then, phooey on that line of thinking. Of course, I’m at the point in life where there’s no family left. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Oh now ain’t that the truth! ):

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    • Bill says:

      You’re absolutely right. Of course it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The senior attendee at this year’s reunion was a great-uncle of mine who lives in California now and who has some serious health problems that have prevented him from attending the last two years. Before we ate he made an emotional plea for the family to get on and use Facebook (there is a closed-invitation only family group for people who don’t want to share news more publicly). One line that stuck with me: “C’mon people! It’s the 21st Century!” I was amused that the oldest person there was fussing at younger people for not participating on Facebook.

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  6. EllaDee says:

    In this, your mother is the equivalent of my Dad, I enjoy our family reunions and get togethers for myself but there are some I do simply because it’s important to Dad. For a few years unfortunate timing and other commitments have kept me from attending the core family reunion, interest and attendance at which has declined overall but your post is a reminder to me to follow up discussed changes which may see a renewal before we lose our older generation because after that I can’t see it surviving at all. Ours too is an amazing feast, for we’ve always enjoyed eating together, a connection I think back to earlier meals at my grandparents farm.

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    • Bill says:

      Maybe as we all start getting older ourselves we’ll start feeling more as your Dad and my Mother do. 🙂 When I was a teenager I was a chess-fanatic for a while and the local tournaments were on the second Sunday of every month. My mother could never understand why I’d skip the family reunion to play chess. All these years later, I’m sure she still remembers that. 🙂

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  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    While modern technologies allow us to keep in touch, you can’t bring potluck, hug or play baseball…
    So good you all had a great time (but most especially your Mom: ) And nothing beats that!

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    • Bill says:

      Amen. I’m a fan of the internet and the technology that allows us to stay in touch without expensive long-distance phone calls, but nothing beats gathering for a meal and fellowship.

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