My Aunt Minerva's death hit the family pretty hard. She was like the matriarch of an extended family who loved us all unconditionally.
The day we laid my mom's sister to rest in Taylor someone repeated what had been said many times before, "We need to get together for a happy occasion. We only see each other at funerals." And, that is how it started 23 years ago, our family reunion.
I don't know what made me take the initiative that day, but we picked a weekend that summer. I invited them all to come to Lubbock and they did. My Lubbock family all pitched in and we did a pretty good job considering we really didn't know what we were doing. Those glorious family gatherings have taken many twists and turns since then, because there are no rules for reunions, but there has to be organization. When I talk to folks who have family reunions, we always compare notes. That is how we have gotten some of our ideas.
Here is the basic structure of our gatherings. Most of the family lives in different parts of Texas, so the reunion is held wherever the host family lives. We have dues, but the start-up money for the following reunion comes from an auction. The auction items are brought by different family members and the bidding on Saturday night is one of the highlights of the weekend. Activities vary from town to town, but there is always something for everybody. And, yes, the older folks usually just enjoy sitting and talking. Oh, and there is the food, lots and lots of food. We have a breakfast on Sunday morning. That is followed by the meeting to choose the host family for the next year before everybody heads home. Pretty simple.
I cannot tell you how many people I have told about our reunion who say they wished their family had one. My response is always something similar to Nike's trademark slogan, "Just Do It."
It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Just keep in mind that the idea is just to get together, catch up on each other's lives and just have a good time. Although we have never actually done it, we often say that it were just going to a park with some buckets of chicken, it would be okay. It really just takes someone starting it.
A lot of life has happened in the 23 years we have been reuniting. We have lost a few family members and we have gained many. We laugh, we cry and we celebrate family. That is the point, and we genuinely look forward to it every year.
There are a lot of reasons not to start a reunion. I know. We would often lay them all out at those funerals. The funerals when we would just talk about having a reunion someday.
My only regret is that Aunt Minerva never went to one of our reunions. But, guess what? She is the reason we all get together once a year for a happy occasion.
She would have loved that; she was all about family.
Come to think of it, she will be there when we get together later this month.