Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Family Reunions

                    Families grow stronger as they meet together often in family reunions.  A family reunion is any occasion when members of an extended family gather.  Some families plan regular family reunions; other families get together for impromptu gatherings.  Some families gather for a few hours while other families gather for days or even weeks. 

                    A typical family reunion will include several generations and will usually include at least one meal, some games or other recreation, and some type of discussion.  Some family reunions are organized by family organizations and are centered around a common ancestor from the distant past.

                    This is the season for family reunions, and I will be attending several reunions between July and September.  At this time I am in the midst of a family reunion for the posterity of my parents.  Since my parents have twelve children and seventy grand-children, there are several hundred of us that could attend, but there are usually just over one hundred of us in attendance at any annual reunion.  We have been holding family reunions for many years, but the first time that all twelve of my parents' children were together was just a few months before my mother passed away.  Think of it:  my mother had all twelve of her children together only once during her life time!  That was maybe our first reunion - about 1975, and we have united every year since that day even though both of our parents and two brothers are now gone to a better place.  We have also lost two brothers-in-law in recent years.

Our annual reunions are held around the end of July and take place over a period of several days.  One of the first events of most of our reunions is a family temple session attended by those who are so inclined.  Our temple session this year was followed by a "sibling dinner" or a dinner meeting of the twelve children and their spouses.  My siblings and I are the board of directors for our family organization, and we take turns being the chairman of the reunion.  We usually meet in a home, but for convenience this year we met at a restaurant.

In recent years we added a "cousins' night" to our reunion for the adult cousins.  This year my son and his wife planned and hosted the event; they provided the hot dogs and hamburgers while guests brought side dishes or desserts.  The group spent the evening playing games and getting to know each other better.

Our entire group meets on Saturday at a park for five or six hours.   We bring a planned pot luck lunch after which we enjoy games, activities, crafts, and visiting.  Our lunch this year consisted of chicken purchased at Chick-Filet with side dishes provided by the attendees.  At most of our reunions we enjoy corn on the cob and homemade root beer as well as many other yummy dishes.

Our reunions are enjoyable because this is the only time of year when we see some members of our family; reunions are a time when we are able to catch up with what is happening in everyone's lives.  My children as well as my nieces and nephews are all adults with children of their own; some even have grandchildren.  The reunions are fun for adults, but they are extra fun for the children and youth as they meet and/or renew acquaintances with many cousins.

In connection with the annual reunion for my parents' posterity, my branch of the family planned a gathering also.  We started gathering a few days before the big reunion, broke for the events of the larger reunion, and then continued our extended time together.  Since we travel long distances from Alaska to the Mid-West in order to be together, we decided to hold our small family reunion near the time of the larger reunion in order to save on transportation costs.  The gathering of my branch of the family was planned when we learned that the family of a son-in-law was gathering in the same area about the same time, and some of us could combine a trip and attend three reunions.

In September my husband and I with a few of our children will join his cousins from multiple generations for an even larger reunion.  The occasion is to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the time two brothers joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated to the United States from Norway.  My husband is the great-grandson of one of the brothers, and the reunion is for the posterity of both brothers.  Since each brother had two wives and two large families, they have many descendents.  This reunion will take place over a period of two days and should be very interesting. 

When the government of the United States declared polygamy to be illegal, it forced men to either flee to another country (Mexico or Canada) with all their families or to live separately from some of their wives and families.  My husband's great-grandfather left his first wife and older children and took his second wife and younger children to another state.  The first wife was left with a home and an established farm and business while the second wife had a husband but no home.  There were "feelings" between the two families for many years, and this reunion marks the first time that descendents of the two wives will be together in over one hundred years.  I have great hopes that this reunion will lead into much better relationships between all concerned.

When families gather together - whether for hours, days or weeks - something good can happen that will strengthen relationships.  When children learn that they are loved by many people besides their own parents, grandparents and siblings, they understand that they are part of something big and wonderful and they feel more loved and more secure about life.  Family reunions
really do strengthen families!

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