I posted several entries about Family Reunions and get-togethers on here before, but I’m reminded during the Summer about the importance of family as it means reunion and family get-togethers more than other seasons.
Family reunions were enjoyable to go to as a kid to be sure, because most of the other kids my age went to the same school as me, so it was interesting to think of them as not only classmates but as distant relatives. As I’ve gotten older, I learned to have further discussions with the adults.
The conversations with the adults take on a more special meaning in recent years. As the older generations have passed away, the adults ahead of me generationally keep their memories alive. This helps me to connect to the ones that I still have some of the same memories, but it also helps me flesh out the family tree a bit more.
When we traveled to Texas a few years ago, we were able to reconnect with cousins we seldom see, and at least for me and my first cousin once removed, we got to connect with cousins that we had never met. Those new connections are now fostered on social media and are more priceless than any connection to the state of Texas.
Many cousins have also made a point to reciprocate and visit at Grandma’s in the last few years and stories and memories are shared which I treasure because again it helps flesh out the family tree. I know Dad has discussed plans to try and visit those cousins near their hometowns and I’m looking forward to being able to firm up those plans.
As I mentioned about social media helping to deepen connections with cousins across the country, even the more local ones are deepened on there too. Luckily on the paternal side of the family, one cousin administrates a Facebook group page for the extended members of the family to share photos and memories of our family. So, this creates more of a virtual gathering to understand the family tree as well.
While I learn well from simply listening, a book containing wisdom, memories, and traditions of the family would be helpful for future generations. My memory and learning by auditory means is fading as I age, and those treasured memories could fade if not written down. The Facebook group does allow for many of the memories to be written down and preserved.
The fascination with family connections extends beyond my family too. I like watching Finding Your Roots on PBS. This show features Yale Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. revealing interesting relatives to celebrities. The episodes also conclude with a DNA analysis that explains the celebrities’ ethnic makeup as well. It’s always interesting when Black celebrities find out they have some sort of Asian heritage or the WASPiest celebrity has Ashkenazi or other ethnic heritage.
I also like the idea of trying to navigate the family trees and the consanguinity charts that explain who is my 1st cousin once removed, or great uncle twice removed. I know many are confused with how they are related but looking at a consanguinity chart several times has helped me understand. E.g. your first cousin once removed is your first cousin’s child. Worth noting, their relation to you is first cousin once removed as well.
Do you try to learn the histories, traditions, and memories of your family?