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, August 24, 2018

Long-Lasting Family Reunions

            We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by holding regular reunions of our extended families. Time together in conversation, hugs, games, and laughter can strengthen most family relationships. I know this to be true because the posterity of my parents hold annual family reunions.

            I thought that our family was doing well to continue our reunions for the past forty years. Then I read in Parade Magazine about a family based in North Carolina that has been meeting annually since 1853. According to Lauren Harris, the Siler family in Macon County, North Carolina, holds the title of the “longest-running family reunion in the U.S.” This family not only has the title, but they have the historical records to prove it. 

What started as a small family gathering in 1853 is now an annual event that draws as many as 250 Siler descendants of all ages from across the world and back to their Macon County, North Carolina roots for fellowship, food and fun.

            Members of the Siler family have a “sense of who we are” according to one member. The reunion in 2018 will be the 167th event because the family had two reunions one year. The family meets in Franklin, North Carolina, in a spot near where Plikard and Elizabeth Siler planted their roots in the early 1800s. The German immigrants settled in this spot because they heard that sweet potatoes grew well there. After they were settled, the Silers learned that they did not even like sweet potatoes. They did not grow them, but sweet potatoes are often present at the reunions.

            The Siler family reunion is “hosted by a different family every year.” The potluck meal features “many traditions that keep the event true to its roots.” Each family reunion is called to order by the “same hand-carved gavel” in order for “the year’s births, deaths and marriages” to be recognized. The family also sings and prays together. All this activity is contained in minutes that are now “archived at the local Fontana Regional Library. Most recently, the Silers initiated a family-to-family networking list to connect relatives for business and professional opportunities across the country.”

            Another family that has a long-lasting tradition of family reunions is the William Bull and Sarah Wells family of Campbell Hall, New York. This family has been gathering for 151 years at “the Stone House they built in 1722.” They “have a record of about 20,000 descendants alive in North America.”

            There are several points that I would like to bring out about these family reunions:
(1) The events are held annually, (2) they are held in the same place each year, (3) records are kept, (4) traditions play a big part in long-lasting reunions, and (5) there is strong sense of belonging to something bigger than self or immediate family.

            For the Siler family, the responsibility for planning and directing the reunion is rotated around the family, so the same people are not doing all the work every year. (This is a concept that is a current struggle in my family.) These families know that regular family reunions strengthen their families and bring the individuals closer together. They know that strong families help to create strong communities and nations.

No comments:

Post a Comment