I used to think every family had an annual family reunion. I have attended 2 or 3 a year since the year I was born, being just 2 months old at my first Shackelford reunion. As I grew up I thought "oh, maybe it's a Southern thing" but as I grew even older I realized that many Southerners I knew did not have them. I think that's sad. If you know much about me you know that I am about family. I never visit as often as I should or write like I should but I do cherish family and relatives. So the 2nd Sunday of every June we attend the Shackelford reunion, out in the country across the road from where my great grandfather raised my paternal granddaddy and his many siblings. Where that great grandfather, his wife. my grandparents, one uncle and other loved ones are buried. Where some day some of my ashes will rest. Now there are only two from my granddaddy's generation left, Aunt Louise and her husband Jasper. Even the next generation has already lost many. The picture above has Aunt Louise in the middle seated surrounded by her neices and nephews.
There used to be so many more of them.
The Chosen one doesn't come from a strong tradition of family reunions. There was always an annual one on his daddy's side but we only attended 2 after we married. Probably five years ago the Chosen One developed a big interest in genealogy and our family histories. His uncle shares this interest so it has been fun to watch them discuss their research. Four years ago they decided to gather the members of the his paternal grandfather's part of the family tree. So in 2008 for a weekend twenty four cousins of varying degrees gathered in the Georgian city where their family made their mark. This summer we gathered again for a full weekend, this time there were about the same number but over half were first timers so we now know even more of them.
The second Saturday of August my paternal side of the family gathers. It is closest to my Bigmama's birthday and we honor the memory of her and the Bigpapa that I never knew, he died 5 days before my overdue birth. This is the side of my family with the more unique personalities lol There were 56 of us this year but the absence of my uncle that passed in February was strongly felt.
The Elders are getting older, imagine that and sometimes it brings tears to my eyes knowing that there is no guarantee who will sit at the table the next August. To me this is what family reunions are about...written in stone dates that we are forced to stop and spend time with those of our bloodline, our roots.... to honor the matriarchs and patriarchs that provided life that runs down through our branches. To reconnect with the cousins that pulled our hair, made mudpies with us and laughed with and at us. To watch their children and grandchildren change and quickly become grown. It is about actually taking a few hours and doing that which we have good intentions of doing throughout the year but in the busyness of our lives we put to the side. And if we aren't careful sometimes the opportunities to connect are gone and will never exist again.
These are MY People, who are yours?