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Slice of Life Sunday: The Myers Family Reunion

April 6, 2008

SOL Participant 2

 

 

 

Slice of Life Sunday is a meme dedicated to preserving the accounts of events cut out of the lives of average people just like you and me from all over the world. And like having ice cream with your pie, there is more to this meme than meets the eye – it’s a meme a` la mode . This week’s prompts are: How I Met My Best Friend, Illness of a Child, and Family Reunion. I chose . . .

  

 

The Myers Family Reunion

 

As a child growing up in the 50’s, Sunday dinner was almost a family reunion  every weekend. My father was the second to the youngest of a family of 13 children, so there was never a shortage of aunts and uncles with cousins. . . many, many cousins! To have a Sunday dinner without a family or two of cousins over would have been like putting on a coat with an extra sleeve, something would have been out of place. In the late 60’s my mother and my Aunt Idie (the second to the oldest sibling in my father’s family) decided we should have a Sunday dinner and have everyone over, a true family reunion with all 100 plus first and second cousins. Thus began the ritual of the Myers Family Reunion, always held the first Sunday in August at the Marietta fairgrounds – a ritual the lasted for more than 20 years.

 

I call it a ritual, because for my mother the family reunion was almost more important than Thanksgiving dinner. My mother would spend most of the year planning for the big event. She organized all the games, and trust me, there was no shortage of games. She had two to three games for each of five age groups, complete with prizes, which she provided. Then there was the silent auction of white elephant items each family was to bring to help with raising money to pay for the fairground rental. If a family made the mistake of coming to the reunion without bringing an auction item, everyone would have to hear about it for another 12 months until the next reunion when the forgetful-ones had a chance to redeem themselves by bringing two items for the auction. And Lord have mercy should a family show up without bringing at least two covered dishes –  the reunion was all about the food, or more specifically for my mother, who brought what dish!

 

Since we had almost two previous decades of having relatives over for Sunday dinner, and they always brought a covered dish, my mother knew who made the best recipe of any given dish. On the invitation to the very first family reunion, my mother hand-wrote specific requests for food dishes: Oh, Mary, you make the best beef and noodles, I do hope you will bring some! Oh Faye, how could we have a dinner without your apple pie for dessert? And on she went, praising and requesting on all 35 invitations. The next two years she did the same, until everyone firmly understood what dishes, at a minimum, they were assigned to bring. Although some relatives liked to complain about my mother’s bossiness, I do think they were also very proud that someone had noticed something special about them. And let’s face it, it was superior menu planning with the best of the best dishes, and everyone raved every year about how wonderful the food was.

 

I personally enjoyed the family reunion because of all the family stories we cousins would retell. Each family of a Myers sibling had a special tale or two they would share that was passed down to them by their father or mother. This was a history lesson of sorts, a history of my father’s family told in humorous (and some not so humorous) renditions of growing up during the Great Depression. One of my favorite stories to share was about my father, who at age 10, helped a neighbor plow a field, with a horse because the neighbor could not afford the gasoline for the tractor. When the neighbor offered payment for the week’s worth of work, my father had to decline the money. He would have been whipped within “an inch of his life” by his father if he would have taken money for helping a neighbor. So the neighbor gave my dad a scrawny little pig instead. The neighbor explained he would have to “bash it in the head” if dad didn’t take it because the mother sow wouldn’t feed it. My dad took the little half-starved pig home and bottle-fed it until it was big enough to eat on its own. That fall he took the pig to the Washington County Fair and sold it for $3.00. Now $3 back in 1936 was a lot to pay for a pig. But it was the county fair after all, and the buyer . . . well the buyer was the neighbor who gave dad the pig for helping with the plowing! And what do you think my dad did with his $3? He went to the general store and bought enough flour, sugar and salt to last all through winter for a family of 15.

 

The Myers Family Reunion finally ended in 1991. By then most of my father’s siblings were deceased and my mother was too ill to do the planning and too stubborn to encourage anyone to take over, not that anyone was lining up for the job. Mom had maintained a series of scrapbooks of pictures and other items of interest from each reunion. I get those books out from time to time and gain so much pleasure from looking at them. I sure miss the family reunion. I miss Cousin Mary’s beef and noodles, Aunt Faye’s apple pie, and Aunt Idie’s cole slaw. I even miss the craziness of the week before the reunion helping mom get everything ready and packed for the hour and a half trip to Marietta. But most of all, I miss the retelling of the family stories and sharing a Sunday dinner with my cousins, all 100-plus of them.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2008 7:35 pm

    Hello Friend, My Mother is the middle child of 13 and like you I have many many relatives. Will post about my family on Wednesday if I am not working.

    Love and Hugs,
    Joyce

  2. April 8, 2008 11:39 am

    Reading about your family reunions reminded me of my childhood when my rather large extended family got together regularly. As with your family, our ‘reunions’ became less frequent as the ‘older generation’ passed on and cousins moved away … until now all we have are ‘memories’ and holiday greetings. It’s strange to realize my sister and I are ‘the older generation’ today. Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs and blessings,

  3. April 9, 2008 10:20 am

    Another great Slice. We still have reunions but it is amazing how attendence is way down. It doesn’t seem like the younger people are into that sort of thing anymore. Communication is just to easy, there is no “need” to get together as a huge family to find out how everyone is. I fear generations to come will miss this important Slice of Life!

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