In the US, that kind of family closeness would be unimaginable. We’re simply not used to it. But Americans never like to miss out on things, so we’ve come up with an efficient way to jam intense family contact into a single weekend. I am talking about, of course, the family reunion.
Twice in the last two decades, my cousins have organized reunions, big chaotic affairs filled with laughter, stories, faces I hadn’t seen since childhood, and names known only through anecdotes. I realize it’s unfair to dislike someone because they were cruel to a teddy bear in 1956, but sometimes it’s hard to get past the past and see them for who they are today.
This summer, nearly half of all Americans will attend a family reunion, often traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to be there. Many are enormous gatherings requiring a year-long effort to track down every third cousin twice removed and arrange activities for all ages, tastes, and budgets. Naturally, a family-reunion-planning industry has sprung up to help. If you Google “planning a family reunion,” you’ll get 63,000,000 hits. The first one shows a cartoon man in Bermuda shorts holding a drink. The text reads: “Welcome to Mister Spiffy’s Reunion Planner. Mister Spiffy is a family reunion doctor trained in healing sick reunions.” This is disturbing on so many levels. First of all, if he’s a family reunion doctor, why is he called Mister Spiffy? More importantly, what’s a sick reunion? I guess you need to download his free demo and purchase his software and resource guide to find out.
Is a family gathering part of your summer? I'd love to hear more about it in the comments below!