For many, one of the rites of summer is the traditional family reunion. I can recall a couple Bosak reunions when I was growing up but, for the most part, my family — immediate and extended — has remained local.
My best friend Valerie’s family, however, travels east, just about every year, for their family reunion. The long weekend is always planned well and filled with food, activities for all ages, kids of all sizes, pictures to be shared and lots of laughter and catching up of lives. Over the years, they’ve become close to cousins they never would have known well if it wasn’t for the reunions.
So, as hokey, outdated and perhaps dreaded as family reunions might be, what are the positives, in your experience?
Ramona Alaczar, Hammond: My husband’s family is large and scattered but they have a tradition of coming together for a reunion every five years. The last time — three years ago — it was our turn to host the weekend and my husband Guy had this big idea of doing the Saturday activities under a tent in our newly landscaped back yard … all 60 plus of us.
The day started out OK. The tent people came early; caterers brought the food. Everyone was happy until the sky started to darken. No problem, Guy said, the tent was cozy and would shelter us from a light rain.
Twenty minutes later, there was a deluge with lightening, booming thunder and really bad gusts of wind. Food and plates were flying, kids were crying and finally, the tent seemed in imminent danger of taking flight too.
What else could we do? I watched as those dozens of relatives tracked across my soggy, muddy lawn and packed, soaking wet, into my house. Lots of wet people; not enough towels to dry them and now, no food to feed the masses. It seemed the day would be a bust but Guy’s sister, organizer that she is, called a local restaurant with a banquet room and, after everyone went back to their hotel rooms to dry off, we gathered again and had a great evening. It was a disaster but also a bonding moment that I would bet we will all talk about for years to come.
Carolyn Reed, Crown Point: I have six siblings and, as we grew, we scattered all across the country — California, Texas, Canada, Connecticut, Georgia, Utah and, of course, Indiana. After both of our parents had passed, there was a time when we weren’t all together in one place for over four years. Because we were close growing up, we didn’t want to drift so we decided we would meet every other year for a long weekend at a nice resort spot.
No spouses, no kids, no significant others — just the siblings. We eat what we want, drink a little too much, catch up and gossip, tease and fight just like when we were younger. Because we’re feeling close again, I think we have now made a greater effort at other times to get together with our families too.