Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Family Reunions...!

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...

19 comments:

Felinae said...

Uncle Hermit~

Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories.

Growing up I always longed for those types of family reunions.

I got a taste of that type of reunion every 3 years when we would vacation in Colorado to visit with my Dad's extended family. So I didn't completely miss out.

The memories of those vacations will always be treasured. :D

Thank you again, my friend.

Hugs~Felinae~

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Wonderul memories!
It was much the same when I was a kid, we all gathered at my grandparents house in Gothenburg. Relatives from far away came and it usually lasted for two day too. But all that died out when my grandmother died.

Nowdyas in my family most of the people dislike the others to much to even think about a family gathering :-) :-) It seemes my grandmother was the last person that could make us all forget disputes for at least two days :-)
Have a great day now!
Christer.

Staying Alive said...

My old grandfather was the great family man. Many, many memories of those gatherings at his house. After he passed, well, the spark died out. But I have the memories.

Michael

Did it MY way said...

Morning Jim;

We seem to be the last generation that remembers family reunions. Shame.

The "Good old days" will live forever in our minds. A good thing.
I had 5 generations in Kentucky. Great family memories.

Thanks for a great post.

See Ya

HermitJim said...

Hey Felinae...
I'm glad you had a chance to at least get a taste of the big gatherings! A lot of memories came from ours...

I sure am happy to see you this morning...thanks for stopping by!


Hey Christer...
Good morning, my friend! Good to see you!

Sometimes it's like that, with just one family member holding a family together long enough to get together for a couple of days!

Sad that it all has to go away!

Thanks so much for coming by today...!


Hey Michael...
Sometimes it seems as though the spark of the family togetherness as a larger group dies out with the older generation!

I guess they had more of a sense of the importance of the extended family than is prevalent today.

Hey, buddy, thanks for coming over today!


Hey Tony...
Good thing that we have our memories, isn't it?

It is indeed a shame that the families don't want to get together like they used to! So many opportunities for memory building!

Hey, buddy...thanks for the visit today!

Kyddryn said...

Lovely memories, Mister Hermit, sir.

When I was a child, I spent most of my summers with my grandparents (before eventually living full-time with them for a stretch) in the same town as many of my uncles, aunts, and cousins from both sides. We'd visit often, and once or twice a summer would have a clam-boil where it seems half the town would come feast and frolic.

People moved, grew older, passed away, and by my early teens we no longer had the huge get-togethers. Friction between my grandfather's wife and the family meant even holidays were sparsely attended, but we did manage a Christmas or two with my Mum's siblings and their kids at the grandparent's house before Papa (my grandfather) died.

The one and only true "family reunion" held by my Mum's side of the family, I had to miss. I doubt there will be another - but for that one, several hundred people showed up...and the group photograph is priceless (you can tell who married in and who was born in -we all look alike!).

My Dad's family doesn't keep in touch, much...some of my cousins and I keep in touch through Facebook of all things...

Sad, how scattered families have become, and how life has gotten so complicated and busy that we can't take time to pause and enjoy our kinfolk, some good eats, and a whole lot of tall tales.

I look forward to reading more of you stories, sir.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

HermitJim said...

Hey K...
Guess we all have a lot in common, as far as family get togethers are concerned! We may just have to start our own reunion, ya think?

It's good that you can stay in touch with your cousins. That's the part that I miss the most...

It's really good to hear from you this morning, my friend!

Ashley said...

I thought about it, and I can't seem to think of any oddballs in our family. We're all pretty ordinary.

And on a different note, perhaps we should start gathering at your new land. I, for one, would consider the trip worth it, for a few days out there, making new memories of pushing my child into the pond when she least expects it.

Hugs,
Ashley

Rae said...

I've only been to two reunions but I remember them just as you describe them. In a way I would like to have another one but my family has spread so far apart and been distant for many years. Now it would be a group of strangers getting together. I wonder if we still have anything in common. I really enjoyed reading this post. Glad you shared.

Ken said...

...yep,siding with other comments,our 'reunions' died with those that hosted them,Grandparents whose sense of family value/strength bypassed all others(save a few)...anyway...

...probably a good thing on this end,cuz i'd drop a hammer on a shitload of'em...disrespectful lil bastards...

HermitJim said...

Hey Ashley...
I plan to have a get together there after I get the cabin built...and have some camping areas set up for those who want to camp out!

I think it would be great!


Hey Rae...
Maybe you should sort of feel out some family members about having a get together. A small one to start...and then, who knows? It could grow...

I fuss about mine...but it somehow all turns out OK, ya know?

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Sanjac said...

I enjoyed your recollections Mr. Jim. My mom's family still has reunions almost every year but my dad's side has only had one in the last 5 years. I hope that as things get tougher the old values and family ties you spoke of will be renewed for alot of us. I think it is one of few things that can save our nation. Enjoy your Sunday.

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
Sometimes I think the grandparents of ours were the glue that held the families together!

Maybe we'll be able to build that type of closeness when we start our clans!

Thanks, bro, for the visit!


Hey Sanjac...
Good to see you, buddy! You know, I do think that family ties are going to be stronger in the times ahead...as folks are reminded that blood comes first in loyality.

We can hope, anyway! Hey, thanks for coming by, my friend!

Rod said...

I remember when I was younger have 2 or 3 different family reunions a year but not anymore. We had one this year and most of the people there had never seen my youngest son and he is 22.
There was so many younger people and kids there that I had never seen and they were my cousins!

Rod

HermitJim said...

Hey Rod...
Funny how others around us grown up and older...while we stay young and handsome, isn't it? Wonder why that is?

I'm glad your son finally had the chance to meet some of his unknown relatives!

Amaing to find out that you have cousins that are so young, you haven't met them yet! Sort of gives you a funny feeling that you are really a part of so,ething bigger, huh?

Thanks for the visit, buddy!

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

That was a good read Jim. It was almost as if I were there myself.

HermitJim said...

Hey Hermit...
I'm glad you enjoyed the post...and I'm glad you could drop by for a visit today!

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -
Do you also remember Daddy's side of the family - reunions at Lampassas? My kids lost out on so much when we were overseas for their formative years, that they now are not even close to their first cousins, much less the 4th or so like we were. But, this year Mom & I found a new branch of Daddy's side,a cousin of great-grandaddy Carlile whom we did not know about. He came to the reunion, and maybe will open some new doors... See you for OUR reunion on Saturday - looking forward to your famous egg salad sandwiches!

HermitJim said...

Hey Sis...
I do remember those reunions at Lampasas. You know that I lived in that same park in one of those little rock houses for a while, didn't you?

Some really good fishing there, for sure!

Looking forward to Saturday myself...and egg salad will be all done!