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The Importance of Family To Me

The word family has a different meaning to each person. A family can include a few people or many. It’s how the people interact and relate to each other that gives meaning to the word. 

For me, growing up on a farm in rural Virginia, family meant my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and most of the neighborhood. Many of the neighbors were referred to as aunt, uncle or cousin even though there was no biological connection. Neighbors treated each other as family, visiting, supporting and helping each other, disciplining each other’s children and giving helpful feedback when it seemed appropriate. Because the neighbors worked together, we as children were afraid to misbehave because we knew the consequences whether from our parents, other relatives or neighbors.

Recently, I returned from our 12th bi-annual family reunion. These are always such joyous occasions as we meet in different parts of the country. Each year there is someone who has not previously attended while many of us have never missed one. Frequently family members invite friends who then become adopted family members. This entitles them to be added to the directory to receive mailings about future reunions.

Our initial reunion was started by my mother in 1987 in our hometown of Powhatan, VA, where she grew up as a child. Over the years we have traveled to Washington, DC, Saddlebrook, New Jersey, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, Richmond, VA and Wilmington, NC. A few years ago a family member designed a family crest and we adopted the motto: “Strength Through Unity.”

As we progress through the years and the original organizers begin enjoying their golden years, it is refreshing to see the younger generation taking up the reigns. With the younger family members assuming that responsibility, reunions can have an infinite life.