My family has a tradition that goes back years and years. We hold a family reunion each year on the third Sunday in July. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins from first to third all gather together to visit, catch up, eat, take pictures and reminisce about the past.
I’ve always had fond memories of these family reunions, especially those from my childhood. I can remember the long tables filled with more food than you can imagine all under the big shady trees of Uncle Brian’s yard. We would plan for months what we would wear and how we would do our hair because at age 12 it seemed important to impress those cousins you only saw once or twice a year. But, of course, it didn’t really matter because less than 30 minutes after arriving we would change into our “play clothes” and be chasing each other around the woods or playing on a dirt bank. We didn’t need much to keep us entertained, obviously.
One of the highlights of the day would be the 2 or 3 trips to the outhouse that we would have to make. Of course if we could keep it to 1 or 2 that was even better. As outhouses go this was an upscale outhouse – a two-seater if you will. More often that not I would have to escort my younger sis, and all the time keeping an eye open for snakes. Snakes! Yes. We were warned not to stray from the path to the outhouse because there were snakes in the weeds and woods nearby. Enough said! The toughest part was holding your breath while in the outhouse and taking care of business. An outhouse in the southern, July heat will definitely push your lungs past whatever you thought their capacity was to hold air.
Then there was the food. Oh, my gosh the food! The fried chicken, green beans, creamed corn, potato salad, cherry yum-yum, coconut cake. The tables of delectable southern foods would stretch before us having been prepared by the loving hands of the women in our family. Women who would have planned for weeks what to prepare, how to prepare it, what to carry it in and how to deal with the leftovers. If there were any. We would eat until thoroughly stuffed and then go back for more.
Picture time was always fun. Each family lining up to have their photo snapped by everyone else to freeze in time the fashions, hair dos and waist lines of the year. Every year, those who had traveled from far and near, would pose together not knowing who might be missing from next year’s photograph. As a child I never realized how important those pictures would be. Now I look back and I laugh and I cry at the memories.
I want my boys to have similar memories, but they just don’t seem to be as enthusiastic. My oldest said today that family reunions are weird. People just sit around visiting, saying “oh, look how you’ve grown” and eating and the old people talking about the “good ‘ole days”. Well, yeah. That’s we do at family reunions. And take pictures. And make memories.
I just wish the two-seater outhouse was still around for my boys to experience. I’d like to see how long they can hold their breath! Somebody cue the banjos.