Like a lot of American families, my extended family gets together every July for a family reunion. This year was no different. Every year, we follow pretty much the same schedule, eat basically the same types of food, and listen to the same stories. Here is an example of a typical schedule:
1 ~ Meet and Greet (with many exclamations on how much the children have grown during the year)
2 ~ Eat (typical American picnic fare usually consisting of hamburgers, fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, chips, watermelon, veggie tray)
3 ~ Break out the Booze (tee-totalers watch the drinkers in amusement)
4 ~ Story-telling (some new stories and then the oldies but goodies are retold)
5 ~ Make plans for the next year
6 ~ Say goodbyes
This year was no different until we got to the part of making plans for next year. In my family, we have three generations. There is the oldest generation of Myers, who are referred to jokingly as "The Council of Elders." We also have a second generation of middle-aged Myers of which I am a member, and then the children of the second generation (The Youngsters) make up the third generation. It is the Council of Elders' responsibility to come up with a plan for the following year.
So this year, the second generation decided to prod the Council of Elders with some ideas for next year. We had decided that we would like to have a weekend of family reunion fun instead of just a day. So we wrote a note that said the following: Elders ~ We humble request a campground for next year's reunion. We sent the note with a Youngster out to the circle of Elders.
After our note was received and passed around to 3 of the Elders (apparently because the first or the second Elder could not read the note without their glasses) and they were engaged in animated discussion, we of the second generation became impatient so another note was sent to the Elders: Clarification ~ We would like to go to Potato Creek. We hereby request white smoke when you have reached a decision. Also, maybe next year we could offer free thyroid testing. (The thyroid testing was an enticement to the oldest Elder to accept our idea, who believes all of us in the Myer clan suffer from undiagnosed thyroid disease.) This note was delivered to the Elders via a Youngster, and we could view laughter and discussion occurring.
However, being the impatient Second Generation, we sent yet again another note: O Elders of the Fixed Income: Has thouest reached a decision yet? We eagerly anticipate a response.
Sadly, no decision was reached for next year--which made me wonder.
Why do we get together every year when we have the same routine?
Upon reflection, I believe it comes down to unconditional love and acceptance. When we are all together, we aren't judging each other. We don't care what each other looks like, we don't care about each other's weight, we don't care about each other's clothes or cars, we don't care who makes the most money. This is family, and we know we can rely on each other. I know anyone in the Myer clan would be there for me at any time in any place (although this year I was told I would be put on an Alaskan ice floe when I was old--but I digress). Nonetheless, I think that is why we get together. It is hard to find connections and unconditional love in modern day America. People seem so selfish, so fixated on having it all and not sharing it, and just generally not caring for their fellow man. The family reunion is a place where we can escape the shallowness, the competitiveness, and the drama that permeates so much of our everyday lives. And that makes the yearly family gathering priceless. Don't you agree?