Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just Carryin' On an Old Family Tradition

Families are like fudge . . .
Mostly sweet with a few nuts.

At least that's what it said on the invitation to our recent family reunion - but I'm sure "nuts" doesn't refer to me.

With the exception of time in the military and business school, my father has lived his entire life in the same small Kansas town.  Three of his four siblings remained within twenty miles.  For years, the entire clan got together one Sunday each month to celebrate that month's birthdays.  It was a big group, at least from the perspective of a small child, and lots of food, noise and laughs.  The location rotated so I'm sure it came to our place every few months, but my clearest memories are of being at my Aunts' houses.  At Aunt Bernice's house we climbed the hay bales in the barn and swung from a rope. Aunt Pauline's was home to our only girl cousin, so that was a treat. At Aunt June's there was a nook in the upstairs hallway with a few toys and books.  One book had blank spaces and you drew a word from slips of paper stored in an old kitchen match box to fill each blank and create a funny story (retro Mad Libs). Hours of entertainment for a young bookworm!  

Grandpa Ab and grandkids circa 1962
Twelve boys, my sister, Teri (front row) and me (in Grandpa's arms).
There would be two more granddaughters added in the next few years.
Between birthday celebrations and holidays, it was common to spend a Saturday evening with one branch of the family or another.  These people were a huge part of my world as a child.  Of course, as we got older, the gatherings became fewer and farther between.  Eventually we only got together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, then even those traditions faded.  When one of the aunts passed away a few years ago, the cousins gathered for her funeral and I realized how much I missed that connection, so the idea of a reunion was planted.  It remained in the wondering and mulling stage until last summer when the cousins once again gathered for a funeral - this time for one of our own generation.  That was the impetus to finally set the plan in motion and, in April, we gathered forty-four family members to share a good, old-fashioned Sunday dinner.

Just as at those long-ago dinners, there was no shortage of
 good conversation and delicious food.
My father (back row, left), his brother, brother-in-law and two surviving sisters.  
 I thoroughly enjoyed the day, as short as it was.  "Thank you" to my sister, Teri, who did most of the work.  The consensus was that this should become an annual gathering, and the uncle who traveled from Florida just for this event insisted that we set a date.  I would try to explain how touched I am by the turnout and the immediate re-kindling with this group, but it makes me a bit verklempt.

The Abram Clan
Those two ladies standing behind Dad are my sisters, Teri (in aqua shirt) and Debbie (in peach).  I'm the one in olive green (5th from right in that same row).


  1. So glad you got together and what a lovely photo. I remember family dinners back in Illinois but no one actually lives there anymore. I miss those days of my youth. In our immediate family I was the first to leave 25 years ago. My brother moved to Milwaukee and my sister, her family along with my dad are all in Florida. We are all gathering for my dads 90th birthday this June. I am so excited. I go to Florida often but it's been 25 years since we have all been together at the same time.

  2. Thank you for this post about family reunions. It brought back fond memories for me of picnics with my cousins in our backyard with wheelbarrows filled with ice and cans of soda. Our get-togethers also faded as we all got older and scattered off to jobs or college. Just recently we had a 90th birthday party for my Dad in 2003 with my grown cousins and their kids and also their aging parents. I am so glad we did. My dad just passed away in August of 2011 just short of turning 98 in September of that year. The reunions are a great way to solidify those memories... which only get better with the passage of time. I "friended" quite a few cousins on Facebook as a result of that party. Facebook is no where near as good as a real life hug but at least generations today have it as a way to connect. I really hope you repeat your reunion annually! Good luck! Again thank you...

  3. Awwwww what a sweet and endearing post Tami - - - You are exactly right - the memories at Aunt Bernices in the barn and also in the basement - - - and at Aunt June's you found the book you could write yourself and I sat at the little table and pretended to drive the little plastic dashboard car - remember it?? Aunt Pauline's was fun - I remember hanging out in Julie's new room when they added on to the house. It sure is a special family - and it was a great day - Thanks for having the idea and the sticktoit-iveness to bring it about - - -

    1. What does verklempt mean??? :)

    2. Verklempt - Yiddish - overcome with emotion

  4. My maternal grandfather's family, who mostly stayed close to the small Iowa town that my mother was raised in. They were like your family, getting together weekly. I'm not sure when they started an official annual family reunion - it's older than I am. I know that there is very little that makes my mother happy. I'm glad that you had such a wonderful time and hope you'll be able to keep it up.

  5. I love this! I grew up surrounded by family too and miss so many impromptu get togethers because I moved away after college. Still never miss Thanksgiving or Christmas but since my grandma died this year I don't know what will happen :(