Thursday, July 30, 2009
A few days ago my sister I returned home from the family reunion on my Mother's side: Gamble/Bell/Tisdale Family reunion. We hold it every 2 years and the host city of the reunion changes. This year it was in Albion,MI. In 2011 it will be held in Rochester, NY. In the passed I've only attended when MI was the host state, because I grew up there and it was more convenient to just go home for it. My feelings of that pattern have changed. I am committed to go every 2 years where ever it is and will be setting up a Family reunion fund so I can better save up for it.
This year the family reunion was amazing. I connected with more folks and not just the cousin's aunts and uncles I grew up with. Maybe it's the realization that Ive only got one living grandparent who is waiting to "go home" as she puts it. Anyway the desire to connect has become overwhelmingly strong.
Our Religion stresses the importance of being connected as a family unit through genealogy so of course I've had a portion of the family tree already set up. There's the Family Search website to help us stay connected but that can be somewhat confusing.
At the reunion it was suggested we go to www.myheritage.com . I checked it out and it's a fairly simple program to set up and my mother's side of the family is pretty much established there. I like it.
One of the best parts of a family reunion is seeing so many variations of your own face on the bodies of others! My cousins claim I'm my Grandma's twin. I know I look somewhat like her but I don't think I realized how much until this reunion. Apparently there are VERY strong Resemblances between the "mamas" in my family.
I look exactly like my mom who looks like her mom who looks like her mom. Did you catch that? I also favor and was mistaken for a certain cousin of mine as well. I love it! I'm thinking of getting a tatoo: "If lost, please return to Albion, MI they will know exactly where and with whom I belong!" They might not remember my name but they know I'm Dolores' Daughter, Evelyn's Grand-daughter and Nora's cousin.
I like how the family reunion on this side of the family is set up: The first day is registration where you pay the family dues if you haven't already, and make sure your immediate family's tree is in order. Then you get your itinerary, maps, goodies and Family t-shirt. Then there's bbq with hot dogs, burgers for those who have traveled far. Afterwards folks check into their hotels and relax. In the evening there's the traditional fish fry & pool party.
We also hold the first family prayer:
Day 2 is when we wear our family t-shirts. We take a huge family picture with everyone:
*This is a small portion of the family lining up for the pic.
We hand another huge bbq and went to a park with paddle boats, Kayaking, putt putt golfing and other games. I think my favorite part was playing bing with 2 of my cousins. We each one at least once time.
That evening is the big banquet where we have a catered meal and a Family Unity program: There were words of inspiration, A couple of Unity ceremonies where the oldest members of our 3 family branches each light a separate candle. And after the Unity Prayer 3 different members of each branch take the separate candles and light the 1 big Unity/Family Candle.
There's also the family cake with the 3 family names on it. 1 member from each branch help cut the cake... sort of in the fashion of the wedding couple, except there being 3 people. I participated in both the candle and the cake ceremony.
There's also a talent show. This is also where the family takes a vote as to what city will host the Family reunion next. This year, Salt Lake City was added to the list of Host Cities. My sister and I are the only one's here but if family is willing to come we're willing to host. We are also now on the Hosting committee as reps for our family in this state, keeping everyone updated and making sure dues are being sent in on time. I'm excited. Hopefully in a few year the economy will be such that the family can afford to travel way out west. We're ready for them!
The final day we all gather together and go to church. All the different denominations we are gather in one play and praise the Lord as a family. I LOVE THIS PART OF IT. Because it really does bring home the meaning of family. Being able to put differences aside and gather together is what family... and the Love of God is all about.
I feel sorry for family members who aren't able to do that. Who hold such grudges and turn away. I feel for their inability to love unconditionally. I feel for those family members they missing out on each other. Who make excuses for not sharing in the caring of one another because of whatever justification. I love them. But sometimes attitudes make it hard to miss them. I hope one day they recognize what the Love of Family and God really mean and have a desire to participate.
After church services there was the closing luncheon where we all say our goodbyes to the family who traveled so far away. I met ALOT of new family this year and I'm excited to be in touch with them. I'm excited to be part of the generation who will be heading up the reunion and I'm excited to try and pass on that responsibility to younger members of my family.
After the out of town family left, my sister, uncle, and 2 cousins went to the cemetery to see our Papa! Papa would be my mother's father. He passed away when I was 7 years old. Don't make the mistake of thinking I don't remember him! I feel for the cousins who never had the chance to know him in this life. He and his brothers passed on a heritage that I am very proud to be part of. I gained a new respect for it this year and will always try to bring honor to his name.
I realize part of that honor comes with helping to taking care of his wife, my grandma. She is now bedridden. It's apparent that not too many family members spend much time with her. Her memory is shot and she sees people in the room we can't see and it's hard to understand her.... IF YOU DON'T LISTEN! Which is the key. Her moments of clarity are brilliant. I got some video footage of her and lots of pics.
Some of my family call me her twin.
I kicked my leg up and she said... "girl gimme that leg!" lol
It was a great time! I'm anxious for the next reunion. I'll leave you with more family pics!
In the mean time....love your family, forgive them, gather together often and BE FABULOUS!
My Mama's senior Picture
That's 4 Generations of the same nose!
The Old Folk watching over the festivities!
Cousins of mine, siblings of each other!
Babies cousins born 2 weeks a part!
My handsome Cousin James Jr.
SISTERS! My mother and her sister with my sister and I behind them