I have a family reunion coming up next weekend.
You all know what a family reunion is, right? That's when you shake the family tree...and see what kind of nuts fall out! I'm just kidding, of course...
Most of the folks in my family are pretty good folks and fairly normal (whatever that means)! We do have our share of oddballs, just like most families. I'm not sure, but I think that I might fall into the oddball section...but that's alright, 'cause I'll have some pretty good company!
I started thinking the other day about the reunions we had when I was a youngster. Back in those days, members of the family came from all over the country to be there. Some, like my family, even took their vacation to coincide with the reunion just to be there! It was a heck of a get together, let me tell you! If you had a tape recorder going back then, you could have sat down and written a pretty fair book or short story about it. Some of the stories told were the same as were told the year before, but somehow they seem to get better with each telling! Guess that's one way to keep folks from getting bored with a story, to let it sit for a year and then retell it!
One thing I noticed back then is that you could take a group of family members, like cousins or brothers and sisters, who had all done something together ...let a few years pass, and then when you asked them to tell of the adventure you could get several different versions of the same story, allowing you to choose which one you wanted to file away in your memory for retelling later! Heck, that still happens today whenever my sisters and I get together! We all have the same basic memory of a particular event, but tell a different version of it! Funny how that works, isn't it? Of course, mine was and is always the correct one!
Back then, we didn't have these little one day affairs either! They usually lasted at least two days, and sometimes even longer. The way I remember it, the first gathering usually took place at Granny's house in town. Now Granny was actually my mother's grandmother, but everyone just called her granny! Sort of like a title, ya know?
The whole clan was usually separated, by choice, into three groups. One group was all the men folk. They usually congregated outside in the front yard, all sitting or standing in a big circle and swapping stories about the crops and farms and fishing trips...you know, all the stuff that men still talk about now days, only now it might be dome on the golf course instead of the circle on the grass in Granny's front yard!
The next group was the women folk, who seem to gather for the most part at the big old round table in Granny's kitchen. Man, when I was young, it seemed that you could sit about twenty or thirty people at that table! In Truth, it only sounded like that many with all the girl talk going on. I'd guess maybe six or eight grown-ups could take a meal there at one time, and still not touch elbows!
Of course, the last group was made up of all the kids in the bunch! No telling how many there were, because the number was always changing depending on what cousins showed up, and what friends they brought with them...
Now the group of kids were never in one place very long, either! They seemed to be everywhere at once, running in and out of the men in the front and the women in the kitchen...and the back yard where the older cousins liked to gather to talk about secret boyfriends and girlfriends, or plan an escape for the night ahead, or what small little dose of mischief they could get away with that night!
The second day, usually Sunday, the reunion was moved to the "Park". That's all we ever called it, "The Park". It was a beautiful place, loaded with old pecan and oak trees, several springs that had been lined with steps leading down to them, and there was the San Gabriel river running through the park as well! Nearly all the kids spent the day in or near the water, joined many times by the older cousins being thrown in by the others. Rope swings, tire swings, and an old dam all served to make the place a real joy to swim in...especially for a kid from the big city who was not used to the good fortune of his country cousins to have such a thing almost in their back yard!
Oh, and the food! Every kind of food you could imagine...fried chicken, potato salad, special home made treats, fresh watermelon, garden veggies, crocks of iced tea, plenty of coffee...the list just went on and on! No one went hungry, believe me!
Picture taking, picture book sharing, games like pitching washers and cards and dominoes, what a grand old time! Enough memories made in one weekend to carry a body through many years, as this post clearly shows!
Sad to say, those days are long gone! So are many of the cousins, the aunts and uncles, the family members that all made these kinds of times so memorable!
Now days, we try to have a version of the reunion at my mother's house. Some come from across town and some don't. Very few from out of town ever show up. All the groups seem to be either outside at the patio table, or inside mom's living room! No more circle of kin in the grass, or at the big round table! No more groups of kids running and playing with their cousins, no more swimming in the river, no more spooning and sparking in the back yard at Granny's...all gone. Most of the kids now days don't even know, or seldom see their cousins. That's sad, at least to me!
I think one of the saddest things is that not many new memories will be made, only a little bit of sharing some of the older ones! One day together, sharing a lot of good food and conversation, and by dark nearly every one is gone again!
We can never go back to the "good old days"...except in our mind!
Now, my friends, let's get some coffee and sit outside! We can share some great stories about the reunions of the past...