A couple of weeks ago, we had a “cousin dinner”. There are 11 of my generation first cousins on my Daddy’s side. Seven of us live in the Atlanta area. When any one of the others comes to town, we try really hard to get together. So Friday, we had 8 of the 11, in one place at the same time. With 3 of the brothers who fathered us, and a spattering of our kids. I think I told the restaurant 27. Pretty much total chaos ensued. And it was wonderful!
This whole idea started 4 years ago at our Aunt Jenny’s wedding. Sandi, Tony, Pamela, John, James, Mandy (representing for Mike) and I were all there. We took a picture and realized we had not had that many of us in one locale in longer than any of us could actually remember. AND WE ALL LIVE HERE. I met, for the first time, James & Ginny’s kids (who were all teenagers) and John & Nicki’s kids (mostly teenagers). WHAT? We decided then that we HAD to do something – now! We have a generation of kids growing up not knowing their family. Not acceptable! So we have been trying to do something at least once a year since then. Trying.
You see, growing up all my parents’ cousins were also Aunts and Uncles. It took me a while to figure out the “real” ones from the rest. 🙂 We had family reunions all the time. Holidays were family. Not just my immediate, but everybody! Wash tubs of tea and lemonade, gallons of potato salad, coconut cakes I could never duplicate. And cousins! Aunts, uncles, grands, great-grands, great aunts and uncles, first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed (yeah – I REALLY still have no idea about that. They’re all just cousins!)
And this next generation doesn’t have that. MY kids don’t have that. And that makes me want to cry. So as Jeff and I stood Friday night talking and laughing and just enjoying the chaos that is the Harris clan (they were smart enough to put us in a back room!), he said “we have to be intentional”. Mind.blown. That is IT. WE HAVE TO BE INTENTIONAL. We have to call each other, Facebook each other, whatever it takes to be in communication. And then it hit me – WE have to get in on the planning of these reunions now. The generations before who have handled it all are getting older and we have to take on that mantle. My Mother, Aunt Judy, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Jane – they are not here to do it or convey the messages to us. As we’ve had kids, and our kids begin to have kids, we have to take on that mantle. If we don’t, our kids’ kids will have no greats or “extra” aunts and uncles, or cousins to the nth power.
And family is too important for that. Just for a moment I’m going to wax philosophical: I would venture to say that many of the problems in our communities, our country, even our world, can be traced back to this very thing. Not knowing family; not having the ties to people and places; not feeling the love in the hugs of the Aunt Elsas and Aunt Ednas or fishing with the Uncle Jakes or tree swings at Papas. Family is fun! Family is love! Family is necessary!
So here it is, Harris clan (insert your family names here) – let’s do this! We’re going to have to plan in advance a little (gasp!) since we do have cousins who live away, but it’s time to be intentional and make gatherings happen. We need that. I need that. Let’s look ahead. Who’s in town for Christmas? Too soon? How about next summer? I don’t want to lose what we have, and I want our future generations to have it too. I’m serious, and I’m intentional.