Something’s Not Right
I shouldn’t be here right now. I shouldn’t be sitting at my table in my house typing this blog. It’s the last full weekend in July — I should be in a sleepy little town in South Georgia at my family’s annual reunion.
It’s a very strange feeling sitting here. For the first time in my nearly sixty years of life, I am not in Cairo, Georgia at the Blanton Family Reunion in late July. Like so many other events in this strangest of years, our family reunion was yet another casualty of COVID-19. The patriarchs and matriarchs of the family decided it simply wasn’t safe to gather this year.
It certainly isn’t as great a loss as those who have contracted or died from this disease sweeping the nation. It pales in comparison to the millions who have lost their jobs due to businesses being shut down. It’s not as heart-wrenching as canceled graduations or weddings. But, for my family, it is a loss. A long-standing, beloved tradition was interrupted by something out of our control.
Traditions – What We’re Missing
I think we take for granted traditions which have existed for long periods of time. We always go to family reunion in July. It’s just what we do . . . until we don’t. There’s a feeling that something isn’t quite right, something is missing.
Oh, sometimes we grumble and complain about the heat or the gnats or the endless photo session or the kids who run in and out of the clubhouse, forgetting to shut the door but that’s not what we are missing this year.
- We’re missing catching up with cousins, the ones who are more like friends than family.
- We’re missing meeting new family members, either through birth or marriage.
- We’re missing talking to the latest graduates to find out where they are going to college or what new job they have.
- We’re missing sitting around the table, the oldest generation eating boiled peanuts with the youngest generation.
- We’re missing all the delicious food prepared by the men of the family.
- We’re missing the most epic cornhole championship and roller skating at the old skating rink.
- We’re missing shopping in quaint Thomasville, the next town over.
- We’re missing reminiscing about beloved family members who have passed.
- We’re even missing the Saturday night talent show.
A Modern Solution
All is not lost, however. In this age of technology and with the help of some of the younger family members (a big shout-out to my son-in-law) we are experiencing a first in Blanton Family Reunion history — our first virtual reunion. We had t-shirts made, we have a Facebook page to share photos and some cousins in Georgia organized a Zoom meeting. A true twenty-first century family reunion indeed! It’s not the same as physically being together but at least we can see the faces and hear the voices of family scattered across the Southeast — and even a cousin in California!
A Painful Loss
We lost one of our family members less than twenty-four hours ago. It’s poignant that he passed during what would be our family reunion weekend. My cousin Carey was the family historian. He loved the Blanton family and our reunion. It will be strange not to see him there again. When something like this happens, you can’t help but think about all of the other family members who have gone on before. My grandfather died during a reunion weekend thirty-six years ago. You can imagine the reunion they must be experiencing in heaven.
We Can Hope
So, while we are all a little bit sad and subdued this year, we pray that this pandemic will go away, that everyone will stay healthy and that we will be able to continue our tradition next year in a sleepy little town in south Georgia the last full weekend in July.
If you know me, you know I have a very close-knit family. Family has always been important to me and is often the subject of my writing. If you want to read more about family and our amazing family reunion click here, here, or here.