It’s the Time of Year for Reunions, by Kathy Smith

It’s the time of year for reunions—whether it’s your 25th or 50th high school class reunion or a family reunion, they are a very important part of your life.

Your school reunion is a group of people you only spent about 12 years with but became very close due to the daily contact. Here in Ashtabula County, most of our classes are the perfect size. My mother-in-law graduated from a very large Youngstown City school and said she wouldn’t even think of attending a reunion because she wouldn’t know one person there. Except for your close friends, you didn’t know anyone.

A recent class reunion was so well planned by the competent and creative committee that everyone had a great time. From the invitations, to the location to the food to the entertaining program, it was amazing.

Much of the time was spent saying “Do you remember when Carol and Sam…?” or “How many times did John get to visit Mr. Garland?” and then others chimed in with their versions of the events. Favorite teachers and of course the not so favorite ones were discussed, as well as clothes (“Remember we had to kneel on the floor and our skirts had to touch…,”) hair styles and even how the town has changed.

Then of course we talked about what all of us were doing now—what careers or jobs or even if we were retired yet, how many grandchildren we had and do you get to do any traveling? Catching up with all the latest news takes time, especially when you only see each other every 5 years or so. Even with an evening dinner and a picnic the next day, there still wasn’t enough time to really visit with everyone. And sadly, a quarter of our graduating class has passed on—how can that possibly be? Aren’t we all still 18 years old?

Then the family reunion—you know some of these cousins and aunts very well, but the cousin’s children and their families not so much. Is it even possible that Linda’s grandchildren have children of their own? When did that happen? Having an annual reunion makes catching up a little easier but again there never seems to be enough time to talk to everyone there. Some relatives are starting to pack up to go home and you still haven’t had a chance to say hello.

Family reunions focus a little more on food than class reunions. It’s a connecting of generations and comfort to see Aunt Lois’s rhubarb dessert, Karl’s pasta salad and Cousin Deanna’s caramel cookies. And there are always new dishes to try every year. Some relatives have even been known to claim that their dishes are calorie- free just for reunion day.

Most of the older “kids” still remember their grandparents who are the reason for this particular family reunion. But the younger ones do not. In fact most of them have no idea who any of their immediate ancestors are. They come to eat, play the infamous dice game, have fun with all the other kids and because their mom or dad reminded them to. Hopefully some day they will be more interested in their own genealogy.

Relatives living far away such as Arizona, New Mexico, or Tennessee seldom make it every year. So it’s a real treat to visit with them when they can make the trip. The “local” relatives always look forward to seeing them even if it is for just an afternoon. We still know that we belong together and there is something reassuring knowing “where you came from.”

Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.