Why was it worth it, you say? Because on Saturday afternoon, my kids and I (my husband had to stay home to work) spent seven hours with about 50 members of my family. We attended our annual family reunion of my mom's side of the family.
This reunion has been a yearly event for as long as I can remember. I recall being a young girl at my great aunt and uncle's lake house every year for the reunion. All of my cousins and I swam, we rode in the boat, we ate all day. We played the player piano with all of our might, pumping our legs up and down whilst wearing our swimsuits and listening to the adults standing behind us singing. We curled up in our mother's or grandma's laps and rested the requisite half hour after eating before we were allowed to swim. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we got to spend the night in the upstairs of the lake house - a room with beds in every nook and cranny to accommodate our ever-growing family. We sat on the upstairs deck and talked to our cousins, and played cards and ball all day. We listened to the stories of our great aunts and uncles and ate the special dishes which seemingly were only prepared for this event.
It was a wonderful day each year. Going to the lake -so full of promise and fun and excitement.
Fast forward 30 or more years. We no longer meet at the lake, but the reunion is still going strong. Many faces have been added over the years and many beloved members of our family have gone home to heaven. It's not the same to me now, as an adult. I have to prepare food to share (though my mom covered that for me this year!), I have to drive a few hours since I married and moved away, I have to watch my children and keep them out of trouble. . .you get the idea. As an adult, the family reunion is no longer a day full of carefree play.
But it is still a very special day to me. I am not able to make it every year, but when I can, I relish those around me. I don't see them often, but it doesn't change the fact that they are my people. We all share a common family tree, memories of our childhoods together and many of us share our faith. Going to the family reunion shows my children, and reminds me, that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Our extended family is our story, is part of who we are. I spent the day catching up with my cousins and watching our children play together. I had a heartfelt conversation with one of my great aunts about old family stories, and laughed with my second cousins. We sat and sang with a cousin playing his guitar.
We missed the family members who were unable to make it this year, and caught up on their news from their immediate family who were present. We looked at pictures and talked genealogy and marveled about how big everyone's kids were getting.
It was good stuff.
We get so busy these days, and we disconnect. It was so nice to come together with all these people, many of whom have known me since I was born, and reminisce. We can let down with family. We can be our true selves and feel confident that we will be accepted. I thank God that he has placed me in this family. I thank him for my parents and sister, who provided me with a loving, solid, Christ-centered childhood, and I thank him for my grandparents, cousins and aunts and uncles who rounded out our immediate family in that special way that only family can.
And finally, I am grateful to God that he has blessed me with my own wonderful (not-so-little) family. My children, my husband - these are my people.
You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you,
as you are to them.
as you are to them.