Realizing ReunionsMay 17, 2008
Since my mother couldn’t go to her side’s family reunion, she sent me and my sister to the event unaccompanied by our father because he had a speaking engagement to prepare for.
The reunion was in honor of my great-grandparents, the parents of my mother’s mother. From their 8 children sprang several generations of descendants, myself included. Reunions are usually done once a year, but my first degree cousins were not very much participative during those times. We usually kept to ourselves, but sometimes we mingled with some second-degree cousins.
We knew many of our second degree cousins, but we were at a loss with most of them. They knew us even though we didn’t know most of them. Our reputation went ahead of us because we were descendants of the most successful of the 8 children of my great-grandparents. Furthermore, much of the success of the parents of our second degree cousins could also be attributed to her and her husband.
So my sister and I went to the family reunion. We saw some of our first degree cousins; made small talk; and then presented ourselves to aunts, uncles, grandaunts, and granduncles. We were preparing for several more hours of the reunion, but when less than 5 minutes had passed since we arrived, our first degree cousins called us. It turned out they were already going home, and they asked us if we would go with them. My sister succumbed and left. I stayed.
What happened that night was a surprise I hadn’t expected. I was actually bonding with my second degree cousins for the first time in my life! Cousins I haven’t seen before became fast friends. Cousins whom I was only civil with exchanged meaningful conversations with me. Cousins of whom I hadn’t spoken more than 10 sentences before even became sources and recipients of jokes. I realized that me and my first cousins have been missing something important during these reunions. As first degree cousins, we have our share our fun; but things could have become more fun had we mingled more with our second degree cousins.
Of course, there were still some cousins whom I had not spoken with that night. The total number of these cousins and our age gaps prevent me from doing so. Yet I learned something important that night. I learned to consider not only my nuclear family and first degree relatives as family. I learned to consider my other relatives, specifically second degree relatives as family.
The simple fact that we are recognized as scions of our great-grandparents binds us to each other. We have the choice to make a good time or an even better time with that fact.