On a normal year, there are anywhere between 100-120 family members. COVID took center stage last year and the family reunion was cancelled. For the first time ever.
But an unofficial invitation was sent this year. Turns out, 76 people showed up. And fun was had by all.
For the past 50+ years, we’ve congregated around campfires on Memorial Day weekend with tents and trailers and kids and bikes.
Every year there are missing family members. I overheard someone say this year, “I miss Steve’s laugh”—Steve, the husband of my sis-in-law Cheryl, who, if there are front row seats in heaven, watched the family reunion unfold from his box seat.
Along with the people we miss, there are always new (and growing) family members. And it seems they demand our full focus. Because they’re our future, and we need to be present for them. Here. Now.
It was Mother Teresa who said:
You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream. You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life. Nevertheless, in every flight, in every life, in every dream, the print of the way you taught them will remain.
So this past weekend, we made s’mores around the campfire, and taught grandkids how to flip blueberry pancakes, and played corn hole, and tried to stay out of the water balloon fight, and cuddled with puppies, and rode bikes in Minnie Mouse helmets—well, some of us—and basically ate way too much food. Oh, and Grandpa Dan was pranked.
My niece Heidi spoke this year at our traditional Sunday morning church-at-camp. At the end of the service, son-in-law Josh asked us to divide into family groups, and led us all in a prayer of blessing over our kids and grands and great-grands.
Which caused me to reflect on the magnitude of our responsibility as moms and dads, as grandparents and aunts and uncles, to consider our influence—if we’re having any—on the upcoming generations.
What if we could be influential? What if we could make a difference in the little people around us? What if our prayers and actions as extended family members could help reinforce what the parents are hoping to teach their children?
We should. We can. They can.