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Monday, August 08, 2005

Family Reunions

Recently a friend of mine told me of a vacation trip he took with his daughter to Pleasantville near Atlantic City, in Southern New Jersey, for a family reunion. He told of how it had been more than thirty years since he’d seen many of the relatives in attendance.

Alex Haley’s novel “Roots” and the television program of the same name can be credited with the resurgent interest in genealogy and family history. Over the past ten or fifteen years there has been an increase in the popularity of families meeting to see who resembles whom, to exchange addresses, both physical and electronic; photographs, and generally to meet without having to do so under the maudlin circumstances of a funeral. One popular search engine on the Internet offers more than one million pages of reference on how to organize such an event.

Family reunions are a chance for folks to reminisce; an opportunity to share good times, good food, lots of laughs about “back in the day” activities, and to see the promise of the future in the young adults, teenagers and the babies. It’s an opportunity for us to spend time with Big Momma, Pop-pop, our brothers and sisters, and all of our cousins and all the grandchildren, as well as great-grands, too. Some families are as large as 200 members. Can you imagine 200 people meeting at a small resort for a weekend? All praise to the co-coordinators in the family of such an event.

1999 Reunion Hemings-Jefferson Family

Now let’s get down to the real skinny on family reunions. We all know the old adage, “You can pick your friends, but not your relatives”. Tell us--which of the family members really gets under your skin? Is it your mother-in-law? Is it your bossy older sister? Is it your cousin who’s always boasting about the latest material acquisition? You know the new Escalade or the Lexus? Or the $2million home in the exclusive suburb? The promotion to CFO of a Fortune 500 company? Hey we’re not sayin’ you are really jealous of your cousin because of the success in life your cousin is always bragging about. Wouldn’t you just love to hear their Princeton genius had to transfer to another school because of the panty raid incident last spring? Is it your auntie who makes potato salad that is just too watery to be consumed by any human being? Maybe it’s your uncle who always has just a little too much to drink? Could it be your brother-in-law who is a life-long university student who loves to dazzle you with his ability to discuss religion and politics ad nauseum? Are there some youngsters who wear the latest style, XXL trousers that you find to be irksome, as they nearly trip over their clothes?

Family reunions are great. It’s a time to share and enjoy your relatives. It’s a time to celebrate life. But wouldn’t you enjoy yourself more if a certain someone wasn’t always there to put a damper on the party? How much more would you enjoy the party if a certain someone wasn’t a part of your family? If you can not identify that certain someone, maybe it's you?
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