Monday’s for Me ~ Family Reunions

Growing up over 1200 miles from my nearest relatives, I never heard the words, Family Reunion! When we moved to Missouri when I was 12 years old, I was in awe at how many relatives I had. We had a few of them come to Arizona to visit, but it was always one person or family at a time. Once we moved, we had a lot more visitors and the families seemed to get larger.
Growing up over 1200 miles from my nearest relatives, I never heard the words, Family Reunion! When we moved to Missouri when I was 12 years old, I was in awe at how many relatives I had. We had a few of them come to Arizona to visit, but it was always one person or family at a time. Once we moved, we had a lot more visitors and the families seemed to get larger.
At the end of the first summer, we attended my first family reunion. It was at a park in the small town of Oak Grove, Missouri. We got there a little late so when we pulled up to the park there was no place to park our car. Looking over the park I was really surprised to see all the people. I asked my Dad why would they have the reunion in a place so crowded. He responded that they weren’t just people, they were my relatives! I was so shocked.
To be honest, I think I only formally met about 20 people that day. I was a shy kid, and I was uncomfortable with all these strangers. This was my Dad’s side of the family. He had 10 siblings and most of those had at least 5 kids. His Grandparents had 12 children, and they all had over 6 kids each. I don’t think I had ever seen such a large variety of food before. Most of the food was foreign to me. Being raised in the Southwest most of our get-togethers were mostly Mexican food. It was a great day!
The next summer there was another Reunion. This time in a park in Higginsville, MO. I felt a little more comfortable this time as I had experienced a year of many visits with the family. I wasn’t shocked to see our family taking up the entire park and I looked forward to eating all of my new-found favorites. By the next summer, we had moved to California and I missed going to the yearly gatherings.
Fast-forward 20 years. My dad had passed away 5 years after we left Missouri. My mother had cut off both sides of our family, so I had no contact with any of them. I had gotten married to my current husband, and he wanted to make the trip to meet my family. I was so excited to see the family. When we arrived at my Aunts house, she came running out to greet us! I felt something I hadn’t felt in the last 20 years, I felt I was home. We were there a week, and we were fortunate enough to be there for the end of the summer reunion. I kept telling my kids that we had a lot of family, and when we arrived at the park in Independence they were stunned. Once again, the park was full of Hughes and Hayes family. I enjoyed watching my 3 kids get to know their family just as I had 20 years ago!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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