Ground Zero: Cairo. No, not the Cairo you’re thinking of, not the capital of Egypt. Cairo, Georgia, a small town in south Georgia, about thirty miles north of Tallahassee.
It is where I have spent the last full weekend of July most of the years of my life.
It’s time for the annual Blanton Family Reunion and cousins from all over the southeastern United States have descended on this small Georgia town with a population of slightly less than ten-thousand. Most come from Florida and other parts of Georgia but the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas and California are also represented. It is a grand gathering ranging from the newest baby Blantons to the matriarchs and patriarchs of the group.
“Why Cairo?”, you may ask.
How It All Started
It goes back to my great-grandparents and the nine children they raised. They lived in various small towns in the area, including Pelham and Thomasville. Two of the daughters made their homes in Cairo where they were prominent citizens.
My great-grandfather passed ten years before my great-grandmother. She died after her bathrobe caught fire as she walked by a gas heater, causing her to suffer third degree burns over most of her body. At her funeral, her children decided to have an annual family reunion around the time of their parents’ birthdays. They did not want the only family gatherings to be at funerals or weddings.
A Family Tradition
It has become a fixed tradition. Family members arrive as early as Wednesday and most everyone leaves on Sunday morning. In between, there is plenty of visiting, eating, shopping, playing and reminiscing about the good old days.
Last year was a little sad for me. Neither of my two children were there. It was the first time my daughter had missed a reunion but she got a pass since she was in Scotland at the time. And there was a poignant moment as we left last year’s reunion when two of my relatives, both gravely ill, said goodbye to each other. There was definitely a void this year with these two great men gone.
This year I’m happy because both of my children are here, one reluctantly, but that’s ok. Jim and I were thrilled to introduce a new future daughter-in-law to the family.
Our family reunion is one of those constants in life, like birthdays or Christmas. It’s always good to reconnect with family for one weekend in a little town called Cairo.
In the middle of my writing this, I had to go to the grocery store to get ingredients for a cake I baked to take to the reunion. I ran into a young cousin and his girlfriend. We exchanged greetings that ended with “see you at reunion”!
I know family reunions may be a thing of the past but ours is still going strong. How about you? Does your family still gather for a big reunion? What’s it like? One unusual thing about ours is that the men do all the cooking! It’s great!