As family reunions go, our Godfrey reunion last month was pretty typical. Tons of food, Uncle Lloyd's root beer, lots of laughing and joke telling, singing, and a talk by "an old man." This year the old man was my husband, the oldest one there. He reminisced, telling some humorous family stories, which ended the day with all of us grateful to have been together.
Unlike some past get-togethers nothing unusual happened -- very few crying children or anyone hurt. I remember past events when that wasn't the case. Once at Downata resort in Idaho a horse ran away with a wagon carrying a few of us. Another time a woman sat down on the table bench and tipped the table over.
But there are fun memories of surprising things happening at reunions. At a large gathering of my relatives near my birthplace we displayed a photo of a great-grandmother and then voted on who in attendance most resembled her. We all laughed when a man won the prize. Another time, in order to provide the kids with some safe physical activity, I made a drawing of Goliath, pasted it on the side of the house, and let the kids shoot marshmallows at him to see who could hit the center of his forehead. I also filled a rubber glove with water and poked a hole in each finger, and we had a milking contest in honor of my Dad who always milked his cows by hand.
This year as my contribution to the lunch I baked a butterscotch cake my husband's mother usually made for his birthday, using her recipe. It was fun to see some who ate a piece and remembered eating it in her home.
At a reunion for my mother's side of the family I made Ole Bolen, a Dutch treat, in honor of our grandparents who both came from the Netherlands.
I'm looking forward to a special reunion on September 7th -- my high school 60th reunion. I've never been to any of the past ones, so it should be quite surprising and fun to see if others have changed as much as have I.
There will be a four-person scramble best ball golf tournament in the morning, and a dinner and program at night. I sent my money in early so I'd be sure to get fed.
However, we won't be going to our old "home" school. We all attended the old Weber High on Washington Blvd., but we'll be meeting in the new high school in Pleasant View. Will we be able to find our way around such a modern building? Will we recognize each other?
I recently read an article about Utah veterans who attended a Gettysburg reunion in July 1913. Fifty years after the bloody battle, organizers envisioned the healing of hearts and minds, that began after Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to a mourning nation. Sixty-five Utah veterans of the war from both southern and northern armies left Utah to attend. They were housed in Sibley tents (which were first used when the federal army came to Utah in 1857).
On July 3, the veterans reenacted the famous Pickett's charge. As the former Confederates reached the rock wall separating them from the Union "soldiers" they were met, not with swords and gunfire, but with hand shakes.
They had made their peace with the past, and I think they were glad to have survived the real battle and to now experience a peaceful encounter.
When we stray far from home, we seem to have more nostalgia for the times of our youth, and returning home to visit or for a reunion after a long period creates gratefulness in our hearts. One of the most beloved songs in America is John Howard Payne's "Home, Sweet Home." Payne wrote the song while in Paris some time before going home for a holiday. He knew the happiest holidays were those that we go home for.
Home is where Mother and Father are. Home is where we grew up, and Payne was going home. Accordingly, the first lines of his composition were, "Be it ever so humble, There's no place like home."
Family reunions help us call up that feeling no matter have often, or how seldom we are able to "come home."