We have family reunions on my dad’s side at least three or four times a year. Not everyone is able to attend, but there is a date, time, and location regularly on the calendar for family get togethers. My friends find these frequent reunions unusual but admit they wish their families did that too. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize how import these events are. I’m so thankful for them, because there was a time we hardly saw my extended family-just like everyone else. So how did this tradition start? Let’s go back to where it all started.
My dad is the youngest of four brothers. Growing up I remember visiting my grandmother once a year, and the rest of the family was sometimes there as well. My uncle Lane, his wife Lela, and their children lived there, so I got to see three of my eight cousins once a year-maybe twice. My other five cousins I saw occasionally, so looking back we weren’t that close. My grandmother passed away in 1999, so the sons divided up the estate and went on their merry ways.
Flash forward to November 2000 and my uncle Shade still had some furniture my uncle Lane’s son had requested in the estate division. Shade and his son Keith decided to deliver this furniture to Lane the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Their destination was my aunt Lela’s mother’s house, because that’s where their family was spending Thanksgiving. Since two of my dad’s brothers and most of their families were going to be together, my dad decided we would all go-my mom, my dad, my husband, my two children (ages almost three years and three weeks), and me.
We had so much fun talking and laughing and hearing many stories for the first time. I had not realized how interesting and enjoyable my extended family was. We quickly realized we wanted to do this again and made plans for the following Saturday after Thanksgiving 2001.
As the years progressed, our reunions started earlier and ended later. Currently we start the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving and end Sunday morning, after a late breakfast. We have also added more “reunions” throughout the year-it seems we just can’t get enough of each other!
My children have grown up with these reunions, having attended the inaugural one over twenty years ago. As with most children, they think this is normal to see extended family several times a year. They expect it and look forward to it. They are usually too busy to attend the mini reunions, but they always make it a point to hit the Thanksgiving event-the one that started it all.
Last year because of COVID-19 we had to move the reunion from 2020 to Memorial Weekend 2021. We loved having that extra day so much that we voted to add an official second reunion every Memorial Weekend. I was elected this past weekend (at yet another mini reunion) to be the coordinator. Words cannot express the joy and pride I feel to be coordinating this important family event.
I am sad to say my dad’s oldest brother passed away a few years ago. His family is scattered around the country and is not able to make most of the reunions-they have hit a few and that was wonderful. Life gets busy and expensive, and we get that. We just wish we were as close to them as the rest of us are to each other.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post-I’d love to hear about it