Posted by: morrowsl | August 10, 2011

Ode to August

August has always been the month of assembly for my Dad’s family.  When I was very small, we went to my grandparents’ tiny house in DeSoto, Texas.  I don’t recall any of our gatherings there aside from very brief glimpses of memory that can’t be dated or confirmed.  There are photos of course, but I’m not in any of them.  I recall the backyard and playing there with my cousins, so maybe that accounts for my photographic absence.  Or maybe then, like now, I didn’t like having my picture taken.
Eventually my granddad built a little two-bedroom house on a hill just above the Brazos River in Bosque county and we began to hold our reunions on a tree-covered hill a short walking distance from the house.  I am in several of the pictures taken there over the years and my memories of that hill and our reunions there are much sharper.  I know it was always August, but I just don’t recall it being very hot.  Maybe it was all that shade.  Or perhaps the air coming up the hill from the river kept it cooler.  I don’t know.  But my memories of that time are of laughing and eating and running around like “wild Indians” until our mothers had had enough and put us down on quilts to nap.

In the years since our grandparents passed away our family has tried to continue the reunion tradition and we’ve done well enough that I think my grandmother would be proud of us.  Some years we have a very small group and the gatherings are much less hectic and chaotic.  Other years the crowd is worthy of riot gear!!  We don’t meet outdoors any more, although I think we’ll eventually find a way to take it back outside for at least a small get together in the cooler months.  We’re missing some key family members, which can’t be helped and always makes our gatherings bittersweet.  Each year the family of a different sibling plays host; I don’t know for sure when we started this but it seems the best way to keep things from being too much for any one family, although as we age it seems to be getting a bit more of a chore for some of us!  And there are several of the original ten siblings who either didn’t have families at all or whose family is now so scattered and frayed that we just skip their turn and go on to the next kid.  Sister and I were talking after our hosting turn this year that our kids seemed to be much more involved this time and hopefully by the time our turn rolls around again we’ll be able to just sit and watch them doing all the work!!

As we were setting things up in the hall for this year’s reunion, my great-nephew was tagging along beside me asking a million questions.  At one point I tried to explain the origin of reunions to him.  I told him that there was a time many, many years ago when people lived long distances apart and there were no malls or restaurants or apartments, and how reunions were used as a means of bringing goods to large groups of people for barter and trade as well as a way for families and friends who lived long distances from each other to reunite and spend time together.  I’m not sure he got the gist of it, but he did understand that there would be lots of good food, lots of family he either didn’t know or hadn’t seen in a while, and plenty of fun for a hot summer day.

And maybe, when he’s 50-something, he’ll remember these days and smile.  I know I do.

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