I learned something over the last weekend: reunions can serve to unite and re-unite. You guessed it... I went to a family reunion.
I have 36 first cousins, 33 are on one side of the family: my mom's side.
A year ago, three of the cousins started organizing a family reunion: the first since 1991. Most of the Schmitz clan lives in north central Iowa, but some of us live in the Southwest. The Croxton Kids, Aunt Glennys' children, put together a long weekend at a dude ranch setting in Bumblebee, Arizona. About 40 miles north of Phoenix, at about 2,000 feet elevation, the ranch is set in a mountain valley surrounded by saguaro cacti, open range, and ancient Indian petroglyphs.
But the highlights were not in the surroundings, activities, accommodations, nor the setting: it was in the people. (People came from many places: Australia, California, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and Iowa.)
I caught up with cousins who I'd not seen in 35 years, or 20 years, or 1/2 year. I met the grown kids of some cousins, and grandkids of others.
It was enlightening, enlivening, and a bucket load of fun!
Because of a greater shared past, family reunions outshine school reunions. In the 1920's and 30's my grandparents had a brood of 12 children. Eleven are still alive, four showed up, along with a dozen or so cousins, and a dozen or so of their kids, and a half dozen of their kids' kids. Forty some of us were there. Some of us were reuniting, but some were uniting for the first time. We all share a bond of family that runs over 90 years back. It was special.
If you ever get the chance to attend a family reunion of your own, go. It's worth the effort and expense. Like the old song says, "Make new friends, but keep the old: one is silver and the other's gold."
I made some new friends. I reunited with some old friends. And the best part of it is... they are my family: silver and gold.