The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Food

July 5, 2011

It's not a reunion without the food

Does your family have reunions?

We just had our annual reunion in Pawnee, where I was born and raised. This year, as always, we had a huge turnout. There is a big bunch of us, considering we are the offspring of two sets of parents. My mother’s brother married my daddy’s sister. Therefore, we have many double cousins.

Aunt Thelma and Uncle Boyd had five children with four still living. Mother and Daddy had seven children, and luckily we are all still living. With one exception, an uncle, Daddy’s youngest brother, is the only remaining member of the “older” generation. It occurred to us that we nearly are the oldest generation.

Our reunions are organized by one of my sisters and a cousin. They send out cards and contact everyone and make arrangements for the church fellowship hall where we all meet and eat. It is lovely, and we all grew up in that church. It is cool for the children to play and the older ones to visit. There are beds for the babies to take naps, and easy chairs for the old ones to rest if they want to. There are clean, comfortable restrooms and a huge, handy kitchen. It is the perfect place for us to get together and have no worries about chiggers and bugs and heat.

One of the fun activities of the young married ladies is to clean up the kitchen and talk and laugh while doing it. I jokingly told them last time to keep it down a little as it was hard for the rest of us to hear ourselves. Oh, what a joy it is to see these young nieces have so much togetherness.

It is so much fun when we all get together. We are much too loud and laugh too much and certainly eat too much. But who wants to hurt someone’s feelings by not tasting what they brought? Certainly not our family.

Everyone who attends automatically becomes family. They are inducted into the Meeker/Griesel family with open arms. We treat everyone like family and no one is excluded. They seem to enjoy our bunch.

Every year we add several new babies to our number. That makes second and even third cousins for us to enjoy. It must be terribly confusing to them to try to sort out who is who when so many of us look alike. Having double cousins with the same bloodline and gene pool makes for many, many similarities. All of us have gray hair. All of us are “built to last.” All of us are happy-go-lucky people, so it is difficult to tell the difference. Even those who know us well will see us alone and call us the wrong name. We just speak and go on about our business. There is no point in correcting them as they will not know the next time which sister or cousin is which.

The food at our reunions is plentiful and wonderful. Each cook tries to outdo the others. We bring many old family favorite dishes we know the older bunch will enjoy. Of course, some of the little kids have to be coached and educated, but that is fun. Food is a big part of our family traditions.

We bring pictures and grade cards and anything we think might be of interest to the others. We bring yearbooks and books we have written and music and music certificates honoring outstanding performances. The little kids bring sports trophies and the like. Those who are unable to attend send letters to update the rest of us about what has happened in their lives the past year.  Some bring old quilts and other old family treasures to share and discuss.

We are always pleased that another cousin has finally decided to come to a reunion. Many live far away and it is quite an effort for them to travel. Some are ill and unable to attend.

We are all surprised that no one from any other family of aunts and uncles come as they are all invited. Once a group is scattered, it is really hard to get them all together.

We have noticed although we all greet one another and enjoy everyone, when it comes time to eat, every family tends to sit  together at a round table, even adding additional chairs if necessary. Some of the families don’t get to see each other often, so they want to catch up on all the immediate family news.

School reunions are like family reunions, as everyone is to glad to see their class again. We are eager to see who has lost their hair, gained weight, lost weight, become successful, added family members, etc. Even church reunions are like family reunions. We share a common belief and a service of worship that enriches all our lives. Family can be anyone we want to include. They all make our lives complete.

One food that has always been a part of our family reunions is Aunt Thelma’s cookies. When she brought them it was a huge bowl full. I wondered if anyone would ever be able to eat them all. But the little kids and grown-ups, too, would play or visit and go back by the table and take one or two or a handful and before it was over that bowl was completely empty. So I share our joy with you.

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