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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Family Reunions

My Cousin Doug with two Joannes & Martha in blue
Several weekends ago I went to a large Hovanic family reunion on my father’s side of the family. Since he was one of eleven siblings, there were lots and lots of relatives, but only one of his siblings, Uncle Adrian, the youngest in his family, was able to attend. One of my cousins, Benny and his wife Bonnie, held it in their lovely home, a home large enough to hold the crowd who came from the area as well as from several states close to N.E. Ohio where we grew up and many of us still live. Two other cousins, Lisa and Valerie, helped with all the planning and sending out advance notices as well as ones closer to the day. They also updated the family tree which was there for anyone to look at and add the latest new arrivals to the extensive family.
My cousin Thelma and Uncle Adrian

 As much as I would have liked to talk to everyone there, it was almost impossible to have much of a conversation with that many people, and with many of the younger generation, I wasn’t sure what family they belonged to. I live close to my Uncle Adrian and Aunt Carol so I see them more often than the others as well as their grown children. But it was especially nice to talk to the older cousins like my cousin Thelma, who was my maid of honor and her sister, Martha and her brothers, Benny and Father Martin, who I only see at reunions or sometimes at funerals. It was so good to share memories as well as catch up on what’s new in their lives.
Cousin Valerie as the food is arriving.
The host and hostess furnished the hot dogs and hamburgers and the drinks that were kept on ice in several coolers – pop and bottled water and maybe beer, but I’m not sure about that. The rest of the food was potluck dishes brought in by all who attended – delicious food and too much to sample everything there.

The Jones Clan - at least those who came 
This past Saturday, I hosted the Jones family reunion at my house. My mother was one of only four siblings so the reunion was much, much smaller. While most of the Hovanic siblings, at least those that married, had large families, none of my mother’s siblings had large families. Ours was the largest with my parents having six children.  Some of the relatives were out of town or had other things going on, and one got sick that day, and he’d so looked forward to coming.  Again it was potluck with everyone arriving with something delicious to share. I made potato salad, broccoli salad, and Polish sausages in marinara sauce, as well as the buns to put them in. Also, I had coffee, several kinds of canned pop and bottled water. There was a great variety of delicious food – again too much to eat much of any one thing.
Spouses of Jones Family members

We ate at the tables I’d set up in the back yard plus one on my patio, and some sat in the lawn chairs and quite comfortably ate with the food in their laps. Eventually, my sister-in-law had everyone come join us in one large circle in the back yard under the trees, where we shared stories and talked and laughed about so many things. My cousin’s son David told about the new business he started with a partner. We also asked our oldest member, Uncle Bill at 93 years old how he was doing and questions about the past and shared memories we had growing up, too. We discussed the genealogy my younger sister, who lives too far away to come, had done and other interesting facts about these ancestors and family members, too, that we remembered from stories told.
My sister Elaine & cousin Linda who are the same age.

Years ago on my grandmother’s side, the Payne family, there use to be large reunions in a park in Middlefield, Ohio, north of us, but they stopped as the family members died off. Once we had a Jones family reunion at my grandmother’s house, after my grandfather had died, or was in a nursing home. After that My Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen had yearly ones at their home, but that stopped eventually, too.

93 year old Uncle Bill between his son & my sister-in-law

Then realizing how important it is to keep up the family connections, I started the Jones’ family reunions maybe ten or more years ago. Except for my Uncle Bill and his wife, all that generation has passed on, and I thought it was time we got together and kept up the family connections through conversation, stories, laughter, and good food. Since I started these reunions, Aunt Helen died, and my brother Jerry, and three cousins who were close in age to me. All of them used to come to our Jones family reunions. Except for my Uncle Bill, and my cousin, Jack, who is two years older than me and couldn’t come this year, I’m the oldest of the Jones family now. At one time I had 45 first cousins combining both sides of the family, and counting spouses, I had twelve uncles and twelve aunts. That number has greatly diminished now, and some of those still alive live so far away that it’s very rare to see them.
My brother Phil & sister Suzanne

Yes, it took a lot of work to prepare for this reunion. I had lots of cleaning to do as well as much weeding as possible to make the gardens look halfway decent. Fortunately, my son came over and mowed all my lawn he could get into with his large zero turn lawnmower. There are garden areas where that mower just won’t go. He also cut down all the low hanging branches people might hit their heads or scrape their car roofs with coming down the drive. And, of course, there was the cooking and meal preparation as well as making room for all the food in a rather small kitchen. But all went well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and no one seemed in any hurry to leave. My niece, Amanda, took lots of pictures of the event.
I'm visiting with my cousin Jack's son David.
Do you ever go to family reunions?

What are yours like?


Jim Jackson said...

Take every Jackson alive, include significant others and spouses and you get a total of nine. We can fit in a decent sized kitchen.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, it would be much easier to have a reunion that size, but not as much fun, probably.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

We assembled our kids plus spouses and SO's in New Orleans for a college graduation. We were together 24 hours, before everybody went off in different directions. That was our family reunion for 2015.

Warren Bull said...

Last year we had our first family reunion in decades. I am related to a great group of people.

Shari Randall said...

Seventeen on my side of the family and we get together fairly often. When my husband's family gets together - whew! On just one side of his family he has close to 50 cousins, so that requires planning and a big event space! Usually weddings and (sadly) funerals is when we get to see folks.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret that sounds like you all had a great time. Isn't it fun catching up with what's going on in others lives. At one time people were letter writers and now that's fallen by the wayside. Of course, some keep in touch through emails and texting, I guess.

Warren, we're both lucky, aren't we. There are so many disfunctional families out there. I hope you start having family reunions more often.

Wow, Shari! And I thought my family was large. You're right about most often seeing the members of my father's side more often at funerals and weddings than anywhere else. On my mom's side every several months or so, I arrange for a luncheon at a local restaurant on the day my uncle comes down from Cleveland to check on his property, and I contact those who aren't working to join us. We enjoy those luncheons, and so does my Uncle Bill.

Kait said...

What a great post, and what a lovely family. It looks like a wonderful time was had by all.

I've never been to a family reunion, not as an adult anyway. As children we were always surrounded by family -somehow we all ended up at the four corners of the world. I guess our reunions take place by letter (yep, we still do that), phone, and, in a nod to the youngsters, FaceBook!

Kara Cerise said...

How fun, Gloria. I have never been to a family reunion. My husband's family on his mother's side had a reunion about ten years ago in Quebec. Unfortunately, we couldn't go because we were moving. I hope they have another one in the near future. Maybe I should practice my French just in case.

Sarah Henning said...

Awesome, Gloria! Well, we used to have reunions on my mother's side, based around my grandmother's birthday. So, every five years, we'd get together. Unfortunately, she passed away this year at 94, and her funeral ended up being our family reunion of sorts instead of her birthday. I'm not sure how we'll do it now. I guess we'll have to start a new chapter.

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, how nice that you still write letters. Our letters have become less common, but most of us live reasonably close and see each other often. The others call or email. a lot of people say in contact by Facebook today.

Kara, I loved Quebec the one time I was there. You'd be surprised how many people speak English there, too. We had no problem as most speak both languages. Hopefully, they will have another one.

Sarah, hopefully someone will take on the responsibility for organizing one. On my father's side it was three cousins working together. Also, twice a year - Christmas and in the spring, another cousin with her siblings, organizes a get-together at a local buffet type restaurant where there parents used to love to eat. Not as many Hovanics come to that, but enough that we still enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gloria, I wouldn't even recognize most of my maternal relatives and my father is the last of his family still living! Once I had a grocery cashier ask if I was "Peggy". I said no, that she was my sister. Then I discovered the cashier was a cousin of mine! I'm glad you had such a nice turnout. Now just relax a bit and let the house get dirty. LOL Laurie Byrnes

Ann G said...

Great to see the photographs, and it sounds like you had an excellent time and that all your work in preparation was worth while.

Ryan came from a very small family, and apart from one cousin and his daughter, all of his mother's side are gone now. He didn't know his father's family - his parents were divorced when he was six months old. I don't see as much of my family as I'd like, but we hope we'll be seeing them later this year - but again, there aren't very many of them now. My step-grandmother had a lot of siblings - she was one of eleven, I think - so in my childhood there were large family parties especially at Christmas.

KM Rockwood said...

Every few years, my husband's family rents a few places in Ocean City, NJ, for a week, and brings their mother, who lives in Cheyenne.

They grew up in Philadelphia, and later over the river in New Jersey. A week in Ocean City was their annual vacation when they were kids. My husband talks about spending 51 weeks' worth of paper route/lawn mowing/snow shoveling in one week on the boardwalk.

Gloria Alden said...

Relax, Laura? When do I ever relax, although I actually sat in my nesting chair the first several afternoons and read the newspaper and dozed off. It's sad that you haven't been able to stay in contact with some of your mother's side of the family.

Ann, you must have fond memories of those Christmas parties. I have some cousins who I rarely see because they grew up far away, and others who have moved away as adults. If they came to any of our reunions, I wouldn't recognize them, I'm afraid.

KM, what a great way to get together with family. Instead, of missing out on visiting with some of the family members because a few hours is not enough to connect with everyone, you have a whole week. My church and book club friends have a very large and close family. They just spent a whole week on a lake in Canada, some in cabins and some in a lodge. They had a great time.