Having just returned from Family Reunion 2010 with emails already flying around about Family Reunion 2011 it seems worth thinking about that first community, family.
My mom’s family is big and caring and supportive. My mom and her siblings range in place from Northern California to Arizona and in age from 66 to 51. We cousins add Vermont to the living areas and go from 40 to 18. We are Christian (mostly Evangelical), Buddhist, Spiritual-but-not-Religious, and whatever else. We are teachers and hospital workers, construction workers and warehouse store employees, office managers and retail workers, theater folks and union organizers, IT folk and hair stylists, and so on. Some people have more in common than others, but that doesn’t really matter because we all come from the same line and we all support each other for whom we are. This group comes to graduations and weddings and birthday parties and fundraisers. CG and I drove 7 hours to Arizona with 5-week-old Bubble to my Aunt’s 50th birthday party. That’s not outstanding in this group–it’s just what you do if you can.
Every year we have a reunion. Every year someone picks a place and works out a best possible time and makes reservations. Then everyone who can make it, does. It’s generally camping with trailer spots. Everyone brings food and we pitch in and make meals. One uncle has amassed an elegant kitchen set-up and this year he added a hot shower. There are hikes, card playing, talking, cooking, eating, guitar playing, singing, reading,and just being together, catching up on the year, and just hanging out.
The family reunion is also the “meeting place.” 7 years ago, Computerguy came to his first one. It was in Tahoe and it was a big one because the Northern California contingent could all make it. We’d known each other about 5 weeks and he agreed to come, brave man. He got to meet EVERYONE! And he survived. He even learned how to play our crazy 8-deck card game (hand, foot, and toe.) The piece de resistance was when he and I drove my step-cousin and her three children to the airport in Reno because we could fit 6 people including 3 car seats in my car. Everyone thought he was a hero. I was just along for the ride. A year later our wedding was the reunion. Everyone stayed in one big cabin in Lake Arrowhead. This year, my other uncle brought his new girlfriend to meet everyone. CG bonded with her.
By the second day after the reunion, emails had been sent out with memories of the successes and plans for next year in the works. Photos are going up on sharing sites. People are continuing the community. There are also hard things family members are experiencing, but the reunion is a chance to let that go, be together, and know that, when the hard things happen, someone’s got your back. That’s community.