Family, Picnics, Reunions are a Gift

It’s so nice to see all the folks you love together… Sittin’ and talkin,’…Nobody knows the next time we see each other…” Family Reunion, written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff

I have been reunited with my family and I am happy to report that all went well, and everyone is still standing—in-laws, outlaws, generations, legends—everybody.

In 2019 when we last met, there was no way to know that almost three years would pass without our annual Fourth of July event. Before my mother-in-law’s death in 2015, she insisted that we meet annually so relatives from near and far obeyed and showed up for the fun, fellowship, fireworks, and barbecued chicken.

This time was wonderful, like always, but it was bittersweet because our family circle had been broken by death–a sister, brother-in-law, first cousin, and other loved ones. On the other hand, we had happiness multiplied — babies galore, weddings, engagements, graduations, promotions, legends, and other celebrations to applaud.

Each time we gather we are reminded that we are uniquely blessed to have our aunts, elders at 91 and 93, still among us who share their great love and high hopes with and for us. In addition to the wisdom, we gather and impart, we are gently reminded of who we are, and why family always matters.

Being unable to gather and visit during COVID-imposed-separation was tough and as the disease lingers, here are some important lessons to keep in mind:

Family always matters. Absolutely. At the end of the day, when all else is gone, family remains, so, mend the fences, forgive—even if you can’t forget, and keep moving forward. If there are folks that work your very last nerve, speak politely, and don’t let them push your buttons and run your blood pressure up. Pray for them, loudly hum Amazing Grace, and keep fanning.

Make every effort to gather. Stuff happens quickly these days—while we were enjoying our reunion, a mass murder was occurring, so you can’t/don’t know what may happen before another reunion comes around. Enjoy every moment and wallow in this happy time. The bad and sad times come without warning, so drink this happiness like a parched man who just discovered a fountain.

Start now and put aside money so attending the reunion events won’t cause financial ruin. Everything is expensive—venues, flights and hotel, if you have to travel, food, gasoline, cool T-shirts—so prepare now.

Pay attention to deadlines — if the paperwork says please respond by June 1, don’t wait until July 3 to decide you will attend. If there’s not enough food because you booked at the last minute, don’t even complain if there aren’t enough chicken legs.

Celebrate. The folks that plan these events spend hours getting everything right. Show them lots of love and appreciation. I like to show up when it’s time, so anyone who has the courage and patience to do the preliminary legwork —there’s nothing more trying than working with your peeps—deserves our thanks and praise.

Finally, speaking of reunions, picnics are the next logical topic. July is National Picnic and National Family Reunion Month and since these two fits together perfectly, plan at least one picnic this summer.

I cannot explain why picnic food tastes so much better when it’s spread on a blanket on the ground or a picnic table than it does in the kitchen, but it does. Grab the fried chicken, potato salad, caramel cake, iced tea, pickles, boiled eggs, or whatever sounds yummy, and enjoy the goodness and essence of summer. Be blessed and save a bite for me.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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