I had a cup of coffee with Lila yesterday. It had rained in the morning, and the grass stood at attention. I told her about how I’d just returned from a family reunion.
“Family reunions are interesting things,” Lila said. “Now my dad was one of twelve children. You might deduce that I was Catholic but that’s not so. My people were just prolific. Anyways, with twelve children you’ve got the makings for quite a reunion, especially considering that all but one of those twelve, my Aunt Edith, had children. I’m one of 43 cousins. Don’t that beat all?”
I admitted that it did.
“And, until recent years, all of those cousins, or pretty near, came to the reunion. Some years we simply burst the seams. When I was really little, now that was a good long time ago, we all gathered at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house over east of Eau Claire. Some people slept on the front porch, some on the back. My little brothers would make a tent by running a rope between two trees, throwing a sheet over it, tying the corners to rocks or sticks or whatever they could find. Then they had shade in the heat of the day.
“The thing that so amazes me about the reunions, and they still go on every other year, is that people who in their normal lives might not have anything to do with one another, why they come together for a few days. Hug on each other. Laugh a lot. Share the good news.
“I read recently that more and more, folks only congregate with folks like themselves. If you’re a Liberal, the people you know are Liberals. If you’re a fundamentalist, you get with other fundamentalists. But at a reunion, at least my family’s reunion, we’re all in there—Democrats, Republicans, those who like Travis Tritt and those who like Miles Davis, ones with advanced degrees and ones who didn’t finish high school, old ones and young ones, a couple hippies and a preacher. You get the idea.
“Now don’t you think that’s a good model for how we should be in our normal lives? Hugging on folks who aren’t like us?”