I was at my wife’s family reunion in October. Every year, the Palos family (my wife’s maiden name) gathers in Houston, Round Rock, Monterrey Mexico, or San Antonio for a few hours to share a meal, catch up on family matters, exchange pictures and other family history items, and quite simply just have a good time. I have attended these with my wife even before we married.
I love how families that have not seen each other in a long time fall right back into an easy rhythm of conversation, picking up where they left off one or two years earlier. Pictures are exchanged, new babies are hugged and kissed, and family members that have passed are remembered. Those of us who have married into the family are quickly made a part of “the family.” What a great and wonderful concept.
Earlier this year I took a trip to Chicago for a wedding anniversary celebration on my wife’s other side of the family, and guess what? Same thing.
The one thing that both of these reunions had in common was that there were 40-50 family members at each one. Cousins, the kids of cousins, the spouses of cousins all in one place celebrating the opportunity to be together. It is an amazing thing.
My regret is that I don’t have a large family. My father left my mom when I was two and my brother was just born. As a result, I really don’t know any of my father’s side of the family that primarily live in Michigan. My father had several brothers and sisters, so I am sure I have a boatload of cousins out there, but the question is “where?” I was able to meet my cousin Debbie one time when she came through San Antonio and we got to share a little bit of family history. Other than that there is no contact.
My mom was an only child, so I don’t have any immediate cousins. My mom, however, had a lot of cousins, and they and their family are spread out all over the US and some in Mexico. The Carrasco clan, which was my grandmothers side of the family, is quite large. (Yay!!) We had a large reunion in Utah in about 1998 at which time I got to meet a lot of my mom’s cousins and their kids. In addition to the obligatory “I used to change your diapers” comments, I had the chance to hear stories about my grandmother and her parents that I had never heard before. They also shared stories about my grandmother’s sisters that I really enjoyed hearing.
So that is a large family, right? Absolutely right, but we have not met up in 14 years (as much my fault as anyone else’s.) I love my brother, but he did not have a lot of kids either, so our family remains small. Somewhere in Korea is a sister that I have never known, and probably does not know about me. My dad was stationed there before he met my mom. I have heard the stories.
I have told my extended family that I want to start visiting and getting to know all of them again. I am not sure when or if another reunion will take place. My fervent hope is that it will not be at a funeral, which is the only time that many families seem to find the time to get together.