I feel like when the term ‘family reunion’ is mentioned it is often met with groans, aversion, and the idea of sitting around awkwardly wishing you were somewhere else.
That is not my family reunion. For the past forty-eight years my family has gotten together for one weekend a year and celebrated the fact that we are here, as a family. We laugh loudly, play games, put on skits and musical numbers (seriously, we have a family band made up of ridiculously talented people), and generally have an amazing time together. I’m not talking ten or twenty people either – we have over a hundred yearly, and some years upwards of two hundred! It is truly one of the highlights of my year. I even wrote my college entrance essays about my family reunion. The experience of it has given me such an appreciation of what family is, and taking the time to recognize how lucky I am to have that.
Our campsite, before my mum arrived.
The view out into the field from our campsite. So beautiful!
I think my most vivid memory of the reunion isn’t so much an event, but a feeling. When I was about six, I remember being at the reunion and asking my mom every time I wanted to leave our campsite and go out and do something in the field (play games, jump in the sandpit, anything). Finally, she sat me down and said, “This weekend there are no rules – you can go where you want here, play with anyone, and have fun!”. As an extremely shy child, that was such a revelation to me. This was a SAFE place, a place where I am constantly surrounded by people I love, a place I can’t get lost and can do anything. That feeling has still stuck with me, eighteen years later.
We’ve started a new tradition where each branch of the family hosts a Happy Hour where we can all chat and mingle together! It’s so great! And although I’m not a drinker, I did have a glass of some amazing Sangria this year.
Some Frisbee with some cousins (and their awesome dog!).
We do so much at each reunion, but my personal favorite part is listening to all the acoustic music around the big campfire at night. My family is so musically talented, and it is amazing to be able to just relax and soak in all the wonderful music. I look forward to it every year!
My little one participating in the kids pie eating contest.
Then it’s the adults turn!
Plank racing, a super fun game that is actually quite difficult. No matter how old, everyone gets in on the fun here!
I absolutely love my family. I love that in such an age of digital communication and social disconnect, we still all take the time to get together in person, and celebrate just being a family. My mum brought me at three months old for my first reunion, and so far I’ve never missed one. Even with twenty six reunions under my belt, I can’t wait until next year already!