Happy 4th of July! With summer upon us so is the tradition of Family Reunions. It’s time to travel to grandma’s house or the hometown of our parents beginnings. I wonder, and maybe you have too, what would happen to the family relationship if there were no family reunions. What if family members just went about their lives as they grew older, started families and moved about the country, or even the world, and never looked back?
In reality, that is what many people do already and the numbers seem to be growing. There was a time when people felt such a connection to their family that even though they may have moved to another city or state, they still longed for home, and the favorite dish of their mother’s, regardless of any negative events that may have occurred through the years. I guess with the induction of the “Dysfunctional Family”, and talk show hosts telling us that although we didn’t pick the families we were born into, we can surely choose not to deal with them, it is easier for people to move on and not look back.
Several years ago, during a conversation with some friends, I mentioned that my relationship with my paternal side of the family was almost non-existent compared to that of my maternal family. We all agreed that we had the same feelings but no answer as to why. This strange phenomenon seems to be repeated everywhere, and I have no idea as to why, do you? Surely our paternal family is just as vibrant, inspiring, and important as our maternal side.
Growing up I had a strong sense of family. I loved being with my cousins, traveling during the summer to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more cousins. We were all very close at one time but that seems to have changed. We no longer gather for holiday dinners at each others homes, barbecues, or impromptu gatherings when someone is home for the weekend. The biggest disappointment in all of this is that our children will not experience the kinship we once had nor will their children know the true meaning of having a large extended family.
As I try to decide if I will attend my family reunion at the end of the month, I decided to come up with a list of reasons why someone would not attend their family reunion. These are not necessarily my personal feelings or experiences with my own family, but mainly observations from listening to others and reading personal experiences that have been posted throughout the cyberworld. The list below is in no particular order in terms of importance.
1. The last reunion I attended I didn’t know (enter percentage) of the people there.
2. We’re in a recession and I can’t justify spending (enter amount) dollars to travel across the country to spend time with people I will not see or hear from again until the next family reunion.
3. I live less than (enter number) miles from many of my family members and never hear from or see them, so why should I travel to another city/state to bond with them once a year.
4. I am never invited to special occasions, I learn about my family member’s weddings, births, graduations, etc by chance when I log into Facebook or Twitter.
5. Family reunions are just an excuse to eat and drink, not an opportunity to bond and build relationships, so I am not going to risk my weight loss success.
6. In past years, when I attended family reunions we end up divided into groups of people that we associate with on a regular basis anyway, and never get to know distant cousins and other relatives who have traveled great distances to be here, so what’s the point?
7. I don’t get along with (enter name) whose planning this year’s reunion, so I’m boycotting.
8. (Name city) is where we always have our reunion and I refuse to attend another one held there.
9. I don’t like where the reunion is being held this year, they should have picked another location with more to offer visitors.
10. My family hates my mate so I am not going to put him/her through that ordeal again. Besides, their family reunions are much better.
11. (Enter name) will be there and I refuse to be in the same room, let alone city with that..
12. I wasn’t invited. (wow)
If you can relate to any of the above or most of the above it may be a good idea to do a self-inspection and ask yourself why. To have a strong family, we have to be a strong family member. We can’t sit back and say what someone else isn’t doing when we aren’t doing those very things ourselves.
I recently embarked on a project to help strengthen my family connection. I have been so intrigued by ning.com that I decided to create a family website. Getting others to share my enthusiasm has been slow but I am not yet ready to throw in the towel. I will continue to move forward and pull them in one relative at a time, knowing that in the end as the family reunion dwindles in importance, my family will still have a place to connect and share, forever keeping our lives intertwined.
Before I go, I would be remiss if I did not give you a list of reasons why you should attend your family reunion. So here goes?
1. Family is family, good, bad, or indifferent; we can’t escape them because no matter how far you travel they are who you are, they are your DNA, and had it not been for family, you wouldn’t be who you are today, good, bad, or indifferent. So go ahead and embrace your roots, you never know, this may be the last time you have to see (enter name), taste (enter favorite dish), or travel to (name city).
That’s not all I came up with, but honestly, that’s the real reason any of us attend our family reunions, that and the fact that we sincerely love those people called our family.
Tracy L. Darity is the author of the award winning novel “He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!”, and “Love…Like Snow In Florida On A Hot Summer Day.” For additional information please visit: www.TracyLDarity.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter: Keyword – TracyLDarity