Your family might look like those in the movies. Maybe you can identify with those in the movies like; Father of the Bride, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Sweet Home Alabama, Grapes of Wrath, or Home for the Holidays. I love the idea of family, a big one. That’s something I’ve always longed for. You know the kind, those that get together not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The kind of family that lives life together at some level.
There always seems to be a family matriarch, the glue that brings and holds everyone together. The one who lays traditions in deep, has touched everyone’s life, and keeps us coming back. I always love hearing stories of tradition and fond memories of lives lived together. One of my fondest memories of my great grandmother Mimi is the tradition of our Sunday dinners. Every Sunday we would be at Mimi’s for the buffet, along with all of the grand kids, the cousins, and what I remember thinking was ‘the old people’. She’d always have a roast or fried chicken with lots of side dishes and always dessert. There was ‘the big peoples table’ and then there was the kids table. My other great grandmother Moggy carried on our families’ Dutch tradition during Christmas. Continued today, it’s a special treat for the kids when the Dutch Dolls appear at our annual Riley Christmas party. The dolls (think puppets) are said to live in the backyard of Moggy’s home in the giant Oak tree, only to appear for Christmas.
Many families gather for annual reunions. The Riley side of my family has gathered for years for a summer picnic and Christmas party. I just recently got to visit the other side of my family during the Shanklin Family reunion. It was such a joy to visit with my elders who recalled such sweet memories of living life with my dad as a teen and hearing about my great great grandmother, Memaw. I learned that Memaw was the one who instigated Sunday dinners back in the day. I wonder if she got that from her mom? I know there are families today who make it a priority to gather ritually for Sunday dinners. I love that. Maybe your family gets together for dinner regularly, to tailgate for football games or maybe birthdays and holidays or to celebrate special occasions.
I wish I had a larger family, a closer family, both geographically and emotionally. Now, at what I call the halfway mark of my life, I relish the chance to get to know more of my distant family, to learn more about my family histor and my ancestors. Cherish the times you have with family and soak it all in. Say yes to the invitation to gather. Better yet, why don’t you create the occasion, invite them over for dinner. After all, the love of a family is life’s greatest blessing.