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Family reunions

July 01, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Grandma's potato salad, Aunt Suzy's brownies.

You've been waiting all year for a taste of these family food traditions.

It finally feels like summer, and for many families, summer is the time for reunions.

While older generations rekindle relationships and share memories, teens in the bunch have a chance to meet and appreciate relatives they otherwise might not see - and there's the food they otherwise might not taste.

"I love my aunt's pasta salad," says Lindsey Chaney of Clear Spring. She will turn 16 on the August day on which the Bridendolph family reunion is scheduled to be held at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway. That will make the reunion a little more special for Lindsey, but she looks forward to it every year. She's been attending for as long as she can remember.

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Lindsey says she thinks family reunions are important because we sometimes lose touch with relatives - especially those who've moved away. "It's good to get to know them again," she says.

A couple of years ago, her mother's cousin - whom Lindsey calls Aunt Karen - came to the reunion from North Carolina. Her uncle, Kevin Zittle, her mom's brother, also attended. He's lived in Louisiana for about 18 years.

People she hasn't seen in a while sometimes comment on how much she's grown, or tell her she looks like she's lost weight, but that's OK.

"It makes me feel pretty good," she says. "I love it."

Sarah Pryor, 14, attends two family reunions each summer - both on her dad's side of the family.

"It's nice getting to see your family," she says.

Sarah, who will be a freshman at Greencastle-Antrim High School in the fall, says she's the youngest of the "big" kids at the family gatherings. Some of the regular reunion games - such as the candy scramble - are for the younger children, but there's baseball, a water balloon toss and contests including guessing how many pieces of candy are in a container and how much a basket of items costs.

Sarah says she enjoys a variety of reunion desserts, and "I really like my grandmother's fried chicken."

She says family reunions are important because for the chance to see extended family, and many people don't get to do that often.

Rebecca Rockwell, 13, of Boonsboro, recently returned from the reunion of her father's side of the family in Findlay, Ohio. It's always the fourth Sunday in June and held in a park. About 40 to 50 people attend.

Rebecca says she doesn't really mind when relatives tell her how she's grown since last year. The kids usually play tag and there were water balloons at the recent Ohio reunion. Her brother Jacob, 11, brought water guns this year.

The family reunion is the only time Rebecca gets to see her distant relatives. She thinks it's important for family members to gather.

"They're nice people," she says. And they're family.

Wolfsville resident Mary Winfield Kline has been organizing the Winfield family reunion since 1987. About 200 people attended last year's edition, and the 2003 reunion was slated for Sunday at Wolfsville Ruritan Park.

"This is to keep the family going," Kline says.

Marsha Hose's family had reunions for more than 20 years - sometimes with close to 200 people.

Her father, Speener Hose, was instrumental in organizing them, and announcements in the newspaper included this statement: "All Hoses are related."

The tradition ended a couple of years ago. "The oldest of the relatives were dying off," she says. Also, it had become difficult for some older family members to attend events held outdoors in public parks.

"Time gets away from all of us," Marsha says, "and I'm just as guilty as anyone."

Although she acknowledges it can be annoying, Hose says it's important to talk and listen to your elders and learn things - family history and stories. Once the people are gone, the stories are gone, she says.

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