as I used think that genealogy was the study of genies, it is
not surprising that I have made little effort to search my ancestral
roots. My daddy once said that he was afraid to look up his family
tree for fear hed find out he was the sap.
Ive always been content with whatever base information I
could glean at the annual family reunion, which, even after all
these years, amounts to precious little.
Be that as it may, I am intrigued at the sudden scarcity of these
once-revered family events and wonder what, if anything, I personally
can do to revive them.
despise family reunions, my cousin said last week when I
accosted her for not attending the Bohler Reunion, a yearly gathering
of my maternal grandmothers kith and kin. It always
ends up with my little family seated at one table, and every other
family sitting alone with theirs, she said disgustedly.
I figure, why go to the trouble of cooking a meal, then toting
it somewhere and having to eat with my own family? I might as
well stay at home and save myself the trip.
Though she has a point, I know that if we got our heads together
(albeit at the same table) we could come up with a way to spice
up the soon-to-be-history family reunion. Just what was it that
made the reunions of my childhood so much fun? And they were fun,
I promise you.
Dinner on the grounds, we called it a lot of the time. We either
gathered at the family churchyard or at the usually dilapidated
family home place. Long tables set on concrete blocks stretched
for miles it seemed, underneath huge oak trees.
My Aunt Mozelles banana pudding was always a hit with the
kids and before the Amen was uttered after the blessing we had
all made a beeline to the desserts. There was always plenty of
cake, fried chicken, potato salad, and sweet tea and we grazed
up and down the table all afternoon.
Assorted cotton tablecloths butted against one another to showcase
scores of bowls brimming over with steaming hot vegetables, salads,
and desserts that would put Weight Watchers out of business in
a single afternoon.
Its funny but I dont remember individual families
segregating themselves from the extended family. There always
seemed to be lots of mingling, hand slapping, hugging, and yes,
cheek pinching going on. We would never have dared take a seat
and stay there all day. We were like flies on a turd,
my nephew says. Never still.
Oh, Im sure that in the midst of all of that we did our
share of gossiping. We just rationalized and called it catching
up on the news.
Who didnt want to know who was recently divorced, married,
had a new baby or who had run afoul of the law. We were human,
after all. Someone once said that a family reunion is one of the
most effective forms of birth control. I can see that. Any family
tree produces some nuts, some lemons, and a few bad apples.
Still, we had fun. We laughed, we sang, we ate
ate. Reunions used to last all day long, as opposed to now when
most folks are gone before the tables are cleared. Definitely
before the money for the kitty is taken.
I can remember sitting at my grandmothers feet after lunch,
and listening to little old ladies jabber about mundane things,
fanning away flies and mosquitoes as they raised their voices
so as to be heard over the distant humming of ice cream churns.
Old dog-eared photos of reunions past were circulated among the
crowd along with the family Bible, as if it were the Holy Grail.
I dont recall that we were ever in doubt as to the identity
of anyone attending. Unlike today, the majority of those attending
the family reunion back then saw each other on a regular basis,
either at the grocery store, at church, or sitting a spell on
the others front porch, just aswingin.
is thicker than water was a popular saying back in those
days and families (though they might get mad enough with one another
to kill) stuck together through thick and thin, good times and
can rip my own family to shreds when I talk about em,
my uncle says, but if someone outside the family says anything
bad about them
well, Ill fight em in a skinny
minute! Family loyalty. It was a beautiful thing.
seem to be fewer and fewer of us at the reunions each year,
my mother said. Its almost not worth the effort to
I make a suggestion that we, the younger generation, do what we
can to revive the Family Reunion. Before its too late, lets
think up new ways to lure our kin together once a year. So what
if you think your gene pool needs a good dose of chlorine. Whose
I really think it would be worth the time and trouble to stay
connected to our relatives, especially in this hurry-up society
in which we live. Friends come and go but your family is forever.
Besides, and dont forget this, the preservation of your
familys history is at stake. Not to mention, some mighty
fine banana pudding.
McGee is a 57-year-old Southern born and bred female, raised
in a small town forty miles north of Augusta, Georgia. She has
been married to a John Deere "veteran" for thirty-eight
years and has two grown sons. Her childhood was chocked full of
exciting, sometimes traumatic, events and thus, her penchant for
writing about them. She writes a personal column,"Dear Hearts,"
in her weekly hometown paper and, at last count, had written some
340 of them. As far as she's concerned, one can only write (that
is, with any passion) of what one has experienced, and she has
experienced quite a lot in her half a century of living, and she
gets a thrill each and every time a reader gushes, "I've
been there, done that!"