What Do You Do When Your Tradition Is Interrupted?

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.


4 thoughts on “What Do You Do When Your Tradition Is Interrupted?

  1. Kim, every year I look froward to hearing about your Blanton Family Reunion! I am sad to know you couldn’t physically be together this year. But I am also full of joy seeing your virtual family pic. I am also full of joy knowing that the Lord has and continues to use your family in such a powerful way to help and encourage each other and others ….and also model what a family should be…a large group of unique people loving each other (even from afar).❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Christi! The general consensus was that the virtual reunion was fun but we can’t wait to be together in person next year. Cool thing happened this week. A younger cousin messaged me wanting to know about our family tree. She said having to do a virtual reunion made her realize the importance of family and she wanted to get to know her family better! Keeping it going!

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  2. Hi Kim! Love your family reunion picture! As you know, our family use to meet every summer in Starkville, MS for our family reunion. We stopped a few years back because we lost many of our patriarchs and the family increased to such a large number that we couldn’t do it. But we now have smaller family reunions in different states and because of FB we can chat and see each other. I love the virtual reunion idea and will pass this on to our younger smart people. I also strongly believe the importance of family sharing stories and encouraging each other. It helps us stay strong knowing we have so many loving people praying when we go through hard times. Thanks so much fir sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it very much.

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    1. Thanks, Robin! We are blessed. Even though the older generation is getting smaller, I’ve got cousins my brother’s age who are truly committed to keeping it going. Scary thing is, I’m getting close to being in the oldest generation. Yikes! How did that happen?!

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