A couple of weeks ago, my mother’s side of the family had its annual reunion. We meet at a park, bring food, donations for our own Chinese auction and photos to share. We’ve done it rain or shine and always have too much food and desserts.
Things have changed over the years. My cousins and I used to be the kids running around, playing on the playground and skinning our knees and elbows. Our parents were the old people to us and our grandmother and grandfather, we considered ancient. In reality, our grandparents were in their sixties and our parents in their thirties or forties. Of course to a five-year-old that is ancient, right?
Now, in what seems like only a blink of an eye, we cousins are now considered the old people and our parents the ancient ones, those that are left. Our kids are either finishing school or married and having their own kids. Where did the time go??
I know the family structure has changed over the decades. My mother’s brothers and sisters had larger families (up to 6 kids) where today couples seem to have only 2 or 3 kids so that cuts down the number of cousins in a generation. Then, too, young people did not always move away but found a spouse locally, settled down and began their families. Nowadays, four of my nieces/nephews, three of my cousins and one sister all live out-of-state making it very hard to travel back for reunions. Then there is the fact that some relatives (mainly of the younger generations) would rather spend a Saturday or Sunday with their friends than with crazy relatives. All these factors contribute to our diminished ranks at the Ricker clan reunion.
Yet, family is important. They’ve been with you your whole life. They accept you with all your quirks and will always be the first ones to show up when you need a hand building a deck or moving into a new house/apartment.
Those old aunts and uncles can entertain you with stories about your parents when they were young or tell you about life in the ‘old days.’ Someday, you will look back and they will have passed away while you were too busy with your life and friends.
Then there is the unexpected deaths (one of my cousins went off to Afghanistan and was killed defending our country). You would remember how much fun you had playing together as kids and wish you had kept in touch or had at least seen him once more at a family reunion.
Life is way too short and unpredictable to take things and family for granted.
Does your family have reunions? Do you go? I would love to hear your comments.