Recently we attended a family reunion for my side of the family at a resort in Willard, Wisconsin. Officially this is the Fred and Mable Harris reunion. However, I never knew my Grandfather Fred, as he died before my parents were married. While I do remember my grandmother, my memories are just snap shots. For years the reunions revolved around my dad and his 5 siblings. Time has taken its toll as my dad and his brother and sisters have all died, except my Aunt Ethel. Ethel, while still a family matriarch, has declined since entering her 90’s. She was in attendance at the reunion but no longer is one of the organizers.
The organizational torch has now been passed to my generation of cousins. Since I have not been able to attend a Harris reunion for several years, I was not prepared for the older look of my cousins! As I visited with them, we shared memories that produced smiles, laughs and an occasional sigh or tear. My 25 cousins are now down to 21, and by next year maybe down even more as time takes its toll on my generation.
My cousins’ adult children, with the oldest in their fifties, are now taking on leadership in the reunion activities. Our grandchildren enjoyed getting to know cousins they didn’t even know existed. Several trips were made to the posted family tree, to explain how everyone was related to each other. It was interesting to see the overlapping of generations, due to the age span of the cousins and second marriages.
After the reunion I was able to show my daughter and granddaughter my childhood home, first school, my grandparents’ farmland, and the graves of my maternal grandparents. All those sights brought another round of memories and stories to share with my granddaughter.
Since returning home from the reunion, I have had several thoughts:
- When you are young, don’t make fun of the older generations. You will be one of them soon.
- Make an extra effort to attend family reunions; don’t wait to attend the funerals.
- Tell the next generations the family stories. Be truthful about the good and bad.
- Especially tell the faith stories of believing relatives and ask if you don’t know the stories.
- Be sensitive to ways to share the gospel and how Christ has changed your life.
- Pass on the good family traits, by God’s grace put an end to family sins and weaknesses.