Southern Culture

Family Reunion -2

Another tradition here in the South is the family reunion.  These are generally annual or biannual gatherings of all the descendants of a particular family line.  Not having grown up in the North, I am unaware if family reunions are traditions there also.  I certainly would be pleased to know if they are.  My adopted paternal grandparents lived in SW Virginia, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  My grandmother came from a large family.  She was the youngest of 13 children; and, both of her grandparents had large families.  An interesting note is that in the county where they grew up, there were no new families and families did not leave the county for almost 200 years!

When my grandmother’s family gathered together for family reunions, they had to meet at their local park because there were no venues large enough to handle the crowd.  These reunions were great fun.  There were always kids to play with and to get to know, and the food was fabulous.  Most often the food was cooked by our relatives rather than catered.  I enjoyed hearing stories about my adopted family.  My great-uncle was a fabulous story teller and he had hundreds to tell it seemed.  Sometimes some of the family would gather together and drive around the county remembering specific places where the family had lived.  I enjoyed going to the church where my grandmother’s family had attended and, as well as walking through the adjoining cemetery.  I took my husband there on our first vacation together.  The group would also go to the family cemetery and take some time to clean up and make sure everything was in order.

Family reunions are priceless gifts we pass on to our children.  It makes that family tree come to life right in front of them.  It seems that today more and more of us are opting out of these events.  I think that is very sad.  We miss out on the beauty of what and who are families are to us and to our children.   I did not grow up around my extended family.  I only saw my cousins once every few years.  Don’t let your children’s cousins be relegated to posts on Facebook or Instagram.  They need to know these relatives up close and personal.  Because of my grandmother’s tradition, I was able to build relationships, not only with my first cousins but also second and sometimes third.  I cherish those relationships and wish the same for my children.

Think about planning your family reunion.  Map out the residences of your family and choose a location that is convenient for the majority of attendees.  Once you have a number of relatives will be attending, reserve a block of rooms at a hotel.  You can usually get a discount on those rooms if you have a large number of reservations.  Plan a meet and greet on the day of arrival and put together some goody bags of snacks, waters, and other items for each room.  A great idea for family reunions if you don’t have a family cemetery to clean up, plan to participate in a community service project as a family.  This not only gives time for the family to work together and build relationships, it great for the community to see families who volunteer as a unit.  The family might also wish to attend a church service together.  These are just a few ideas to make the family reunion special and memorable.

Does your family have a reunion?  Tell me about it below.  If not, did your family have them at one time and then stopped?  Share with me ideas that you have for a special family reunion.