My family has a ‘family reunion’ every year. It’s basically a family party with extra people…. and we do have a BIG family. The party has moved around to different houses throughout the years and been hosted by different people… The earliest I remember were at my grandfather’s pond, then on to my Uncle Franks, my cousin Buddy’s, my Aunt Margaret’s, and on to my cousin Don’s.
Who comes to the events also changes and as time goes on we have gained and lost family members. This year though I caught myself having to ask my mother more and more to identify people (and I am afraid to admit, she had trouble on several). I still know the family that I grew up with, and I so want my kids to know their kids, but as time goes on and we meet once a year – it becomes harder and harder to keep up.
I should also mention that for us the trip is 6 hours each way, always now on a Sunday during a weekend after school starts up here in Kentucky. The longest we can stay and still get home for bed time is about 1 or 2 hours. This last year I literally had to run from a conversation as I saw my husband and son heading to the car to leave without me (I’m 98% sure they wouldn’t have).
I remember one of my children replying that it wasn’t a big deal to miss a family trip as he wasn’t familiar with the people we were visiting. To me these family are only distant in location….. I so want my children to have that close tie to family, yet with miles between us all, how do you maintain that?
Our family (Richter side) has always had one type of get together or another. It has moved around through the years and I’d swear it’s even changed reasons. I remember getting together at my Uncle Frank’s (and Aunt Tootie)! My memories mainly consist of us kids playing with the heads from snapping turtles – yes they keep biting for a LONG time after you cut them off. I’m amazed none of us broke or lost a finger. Somehow we always managed to just use a stick to stick in the turtles mouth. I also remember using pillows to slide down the stairs to the basement. I can see in my mind the layout of the stairs – the top of the stairs, the landing at the bottom and the turn into the basement. We would take all the cushions we could find and pile them up and then ride them down the stairs. I think that was probably one of the only places in the house I ever went since that’s the only place I remember. Outside I just remember that walkway going to the house where we would get the turtle heads to play with.
Later we moved on to hanging out at my Cousin Buddy’s house. He’s the same age as my dad, but dad’s nephew. My cousins Kristi, Kevin and Kirk first lived in a house that had bushes out by the road a good distance from their house. I don’t remember that house, but I remember playing out in the bushes by the road. They moved shortly over by the river by Singing Bridge and were building a house but 4th of July kept up. (Kristi’s Birthday) Each year the adults would all drink and the kids would run around with small fireworks and try not to hurt each other. At some point someone had come up with the bright idea to have a contest to see who could build the best cannon. My cousins built some little cannons and my dad decided to trump them all and built a huge cannon. It then had to be hauled over each year to be shot. Watching people try to light it after they had been drinking always amazed me that there was never a trip to the ER. As kids we would run around trying to find things that could be shot out of the cannon. My dad would prime it with gunpowder mixed with flour (about 8 oz) and then tamp paper in on top of that. Then anything we found would be added. I remember sand being a choice one year and even a frog at one point. The sand did put little wholes in all the trees.
For the winters, Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Aunt Margaret would host a family party in her basement. Her basement included a pool table, fireplace, card table, dress up area for the kids, living room area, kitchen, and a bar – So this was not a hardship. Every holiday she would make a punch with oranges and other fruit in alcohol (Southern Comfort maybe). If I remember right it’s the first place and the only place I’ve had a grasshopper. Sooner or later everyone would show up with a dish to share and we would get to see all our family. I have pictures in my album from every year in that basement. Everything from high school on up to my oldest kids. Those parties continued all the way until we lost my Aunt Margaret. I miss those parties and I miss her too!
Now we are left with my cousin Don that has a party each August. It’s kind of a Richter Family Picnic – I think that’s what they actually call it. They get a bounce house for the kids and have tents set up so that it’s not too hot. Everyone that can tries to come. It’s always after my kids have started school and it’s on a Sunday so it’s tough for the kids to come with, but I try to make it for at least an hour myself every year. – 12 hours of driving, 1 hour to see family… What’s funny is, it’s really worth it! One year I went with a horrible kidney infection. I drove home debating stopping at every urgent care we came close to passing… but I didn’t regret seeing my family!