Having recently attended the 160th reunion of my father’s side of the family, I thought I’d expound on the importance of being family. Although when most people talk about family reunions, they mention a large crowd of 50 or so, our particular reunion traditionally features 200-300 of my closest relatives. And our reunion may also be unusual because we have a business meeting, with written minutes dating from the 1800’s. Just to be up to date, we now have a website and a Facebook page!
When I was a child, we always met at someone’s house, but, as you might imagine, that became problematic as more people owned automobiles and the family needed a large parking area to accomodate all the vehicles. And if it deigned to rain that day…well, who has enough indoor space? And then there was the issue of bathrooms! So… these days we meet in a public facility which is conveniently air conditioned and has plenty of bathrooms.
Now, I realize that not everyone thinks family is important, nor has a family as large as mine, nor even much family at all. Why, some folks don’t even know their first cousins–a fact I find difficult to understand, since I grew up visiting relatives or having them visit my family nearly every summer vacation or Christmas holiday–and sometimes both.
But if you’re interested in genealogy, your Fontana Regional Library can help find long-lost relatives. Just go to the library’s homepage, and click on the genealogy link under the word “library’ near the top of the page. There you will find all sorts of informative links to various genealogical sites, including local and regional societies. And if you are a card-carrying member of our library system, you can access Heritage Quest online!
Although my blood relatives are important to me, that’s not all there is to family. The woman who cared for my grandmother during the last years of her life was family. Her name was Minnie Pearl (really!) and she came to our family reunion for years after my grandmother died, until she herself died. And then there are all the families in the neighborhood where I grew up. We’re not related by blood, but by stories only we can remember from childhood: rolling down the hill in cardboard refrigerator boxes, playing hide-and-seek until way after dark, building forts in the woods…those are memories no one else can share. And 50 years after the neighborhood houses have been sold to other families, some of us are still in touch and can pick right up where we left off!
For all these reasons, I particularly enjoy books about families and their relationships. Authors such as Anne Tyler, John Hart, Gail Godwin, Jodi Picoult, Tatiana de Rosnay, Kate Morton, Anita Shreve, Dorothea Benton Frank, Joanna Trollope, Pat Conroy, Adriana Trigiani and Marcia Willett, while from different areas of the United States or even further, have all written novels I’ve enjoyed for the families they portray. And many of their novels are available through Fontana Regional Library.
So, whoever you consider family, whether it’s relatives, friends or characters in books, enjoy your time with them when you can!